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72 7 - 1 100 


JAMES PARKER, Hon. M.A. Oxon. 

I/. 3 



[All rights reserved] 



An apology is due to the subscribers to the Oxford Historical 
Society for the somewhat tardy appearance of this volume. In 
acceding to the request of my friend Mr. Madan to compile a sum- 
mary of the historical material on which the Early History of Oxford 
was based, I did not at the moment quite realise what I had under- 
taken. In 1 87 1 I had printed a series of notes on the Early History 
of Oxford, which had been arranged for a lecture delivered before the 
Oxford Architectural and Historical Society, Feb. 28 in that year. 
A few copies only were printed, and presented to such members of 
the Society and friends as seemed to be interested in the subject ; but 
it was not published, because I felt that the notes were imperfect, 
and hoped at some future time to rev^e^l^fp^^d-^ll in certain 
details which were wanting. XuO /c/OC; 

For instance, I gave but a few lines to the mythical history of 
Oxford, intending on some other occasion to work out the 'Greek- 
lade/ the 'Mempric' and 'Alfred' myths, all of which seemed to be- 
long to the same category, and to have been made the basis of most 
of what had then been written on the early history of Oxford ; and I 
dismissed the story of S. Frideswide also, in a page or so, but knew that 
I had not done justice to a subject which was so intimately connected 
with that early history. My notes began practically with the year 912, 
and although the true history of Oxford, in the full acceptance of the 
term, does not begin till that date, still I felt that the commencement 
at this period was somewhat abrupt, and that some preliminary notes 
were wanted upon the part which the district of Oxford had played in 
earlier history. Lastly, I felt that in so briefly chronicling the passages 
in which the name of Oxford occurred or which referred in any way 
to Oxford, I had treated them too narrowly, and that I ought to have 
shown their bearing upon the general history of the country. 

The purport, however, of my pamphlet of 187 1 was to bring into 
prominence not only what we knew of the early history, but how we 
knew it, in contradistinction to the mythical stories which had grown 
up around recorded facts ; and such digressions would have been far 



beyond the limits of the seventy-eight pages which that pamphlet 
occupied, and these in themselves were already an undue expansion 
of the notes of the hour's lecture. 

But when the compliment was paid to me by the Committee of the 
new Oxford Historical Society in asking me to contribute some notes 
upon the early history of my native city, and when it was suggested 
that practically what was required of me was an expansion of the 
notes of 1871, I accepted, somewhat rashly, the task, being glad of 
the opportunity which would thus be afforded of carrying out my 
previous intention, but not anticipating either the labour, or the 
amount of time it would involve. I found, however, that after the 
lapse of fourteen years much which was in my mind then had been 
forgotten, and further, that when I began to build on what had been 
then somewhat hastily put together, I could not work satisfactorily 
without going down to the foundations, and in most parts without 
building de novo. Besides this, I found the digression upon the mythical 
history involved a larger amount of new reading and research than 
I had anticipated: not that the results would lead the reader to suppose 
this, but such was the fact, since in choosing what seemed to be the 
salient points much had to be read and sifted which was productive 
of nothing worth recording. Although there was little to alter in the 
conclusions expressed in a few short paragraphs in the pamphlet of 
1 87 1, the exposition of the evidence in detail, and in such a way as to 
bring the points clearly before the reader, and yet not to be guilty of 
injustice to the work of those who had followed different lines of 
research from my own, involved a considerable expenditure of time 
in searching for passages and verifying references. 

Again, although I thought it would be a comparatively easy matter 
to treat the passages which were quoted as touching upon Oxford in 
connection with the general history of the country, I found myself 
constantly obliged to enter upon controverted matters. It is one thing 
to put on paper one's own views, but another to give fairly and fully 
the chapter and verse for the evidence on which those views are 
based. This again occupied more of the limited time at my disposal 
than was anticipated. Hence the delay in the issue of the volume ; and 
I venture to plead the above circumstances as an excuse for the 
non-fulfilment of my pledge to the Committee as to time, not as a 

It is true, that as regards the later chapters, Professor Freeman's 
grand historical work on the Norman Conquest, which had been com- 
pleted since my notes were published in 1871, affords a rich quarry 



from which to obtain material, but the system I had adopted, namely 
of relying upon the original authorities independently of what use had 
been made of them by later historians, prevented my availing myself so 
much of this valuable work as I should otherwise have done. I have, 
however, in consulting that work often found occasion to add to my 
notes, and in one or two cases to modify my original conclusions. 
At the same time I have to confess that up©n some of the contro- 
verted points treated in the following pages, I have allowed the con- 
clusions at which I had arrived, independently of Professor Freeman's 
work, to remain as written. I hold for instance, that the evidence 
points strongly in favour of Oxford being the scene of Eadmund's 
death in 1016 ; but I am not convinced that the evidence which he 
has adduced for William's march through Wallingford and Berkhamp- 
stead, and for connecting the Oxford district with that march, is suffi- 
cient to support his conclusions. Again, as to the supposed siege of 
Oxford, I have by no means followed his work as my guide ; in laying 
considerable stress upon the temporising policy of Harold at the 
important Gemot at Oxford in 1065, and upon the traitorous character 
of Eadwin and Morkere's conduct on that occasion ; upon the rebel 
character of the mob which they led, and upon Harold's unwise 
sacrifice of Tostig in the hope of appeasing them, I find that I have 
followed a different line of argument from that adopted by Professor 
Freeman ; but the circumstances, here given in detail, and on which 
I have relied so much, seemed to me to bring out the importance of 
the part which the decision of the Oxford Gemot played in the history 
of the Norman Conquest, as well as to account for that great destruc- 
tion of houses at Oxford which had taken place at some time before 
the Domesday Survey, and which has been accepted as the chief 
evidence of a siege of Oxford being one of the incidents of William's 
march either before his coronation or afterwards. 

Although in this expansion of the material given in the little 
brochure of 1871, I have now treated it much more from an historical 
point of view, and attempted to show the place which Oxford seems to 
have held in the general history of the country, I have not lost sight 
of one of the purposes with which the original treatise was compiled, 
namely, to point out clearly the sources of the history. I have, as far 
as possible, given the chapter and verse for all the statements, and 
searched, as a rule, for the earliest form in which the statement 
occurs, and, where necessary, shown the evidence of the expansion of it 
by later historians. In detailing the character and date of the his- 
torian followed, and the nature of the MSS. on which reliance is 



placed, I am conscious of having inserted details which must be tedious 
to the reader, as this part of the work has been oftentimes ted cus 
to myself: but if one of the chief objects of the Oxford Historical 
Society be to provide ready access to the material on which the 
history of Oxford rests, then a full description of the references, so 
that every quotation can be readily verified as well as read in connec- 
tion with its context and its value determined, will not be out of place. 

There was one difficulty, and this was in deciding whether the 
passages quoted should be given in the original or in a translation. 
For my own part I would, of course, have preferred to have been 
relieved of the task of turning medieval Latin into English, but on the 
other hand, it was thought that the work would be useful to a larger 
class of readers if, in the course of the book itself, the chief passages 
were given in English, and if the originals were printed in an appendix, 
so that scholars would not be deprived of a ready opportunity of 
reference. I have felt a satisfaction in this latter part of the plan, 
inasmuch as, though my blunders are thus exposed, no future writer 
can, or, at least, should be misled by them, when he has the original 
before him by which to correct them. In translating, I may add, I 
have as far as possible attempted to follow closely the original, at the 
expense sometimes perhaps of even intelligible English. In respect 
of the rendering of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle I have followed, 
I believe, almost uniformly the late Mr. Thorpe's translation, and as 
regards one or two charters I will here take the opportunity of 
acknowledging the kind assistance of Professor Earle in revising my 

In giving the originals, where they have been already printed, I have 
followed the best texts available, and in some few cases I have com- 
pared them with the MSS. : with those issued in the Rolls Series, this 
of course was not needed. In certain cases I have supplied various 
readings, especially of proper names; and though such will not be 
found to be of much value in themselves, they may help sometimes to 
show the source whence the chronicler or the transcriber derived his 

I may here too say that I have retained the name of 'Anglo-Saxon 
Chronicle,' or ' Chronicles,' using sometimes one form, sometimes the 
other, as occasion required. If it is recognised that there was a series 
of chronicles, though as regards the early parts of all based on a 
common original, it has seemed to me that it was best to retain the 
old and generally received name, and less likely to mislead than the 
terms Abingdon Chronicle, Peterborough Chronicle, &c, which 



names, to say the least, rest on no very satisfactory basis, while they 
are open to the objection of creating confusion between them and 
chronicles which bear commonly the same or at least very similar 

Some exception may perhaps be taken to the titles and to the 
division of some of the chapters, but the following circumstances must 
be borne in mind. The foundation of S. Frideswide's in 727 seemed 
to require a chapter to itself, and therefore left the period before and 
afterwards, which otherwise should have been treated as one, to be 
divided into two parts, and it was difficult to make any real distinction 
in the titles of the two chapters IV. and VI. It was thought, how- 
ever, that while speaking of the site of Oxford in one, it was only right 
to speak of the town of Oxford in the other, the recorded foundation of 
S. Frideswide providing the line of demarcation. Again, it was thought 
that the event described under the year 912, and the circumstances 
which appeared to surround it, such as the formation of the county, 
and the general history of the fortification of the town against the 
Danes, would justify separating the period of the Danish incursions 
(and giving that title to Chapter VII.) from the period of the Danish 
invasions, leaving that title for Chapter VIII. It seemed, also, con- 
venient to embrace in this one chapter the latter part of the reign of 
^Ethelred the Unready, beginning, as far as Oxford was concerned, 
with the massacre there in 1002 as a detail in the unhappy policy 
of that unwise monarch, which culminated in the accession of Cnut 
to the English throne ; and with his agreement made at the Oxford 
Gemot of 10 18 the chapter practically closes. 

As it has been thought useful to refer to the ecclesiastical history of 
the district as well as the political, I have grouped, as far as possible, 
such events as belong to the tenth, or to the early part of the eleventh 
century, respectively under the two chapters above named. 

After the accession of Cnut, it seemed impossible to group the 
events which followed under any very definite title, and thus the 
general one of ' Forty years before the Norman Conquest' was 
adopted for Chapter IX. At the same time, since this chapter 
practically closes with the account of the Oxford Gemot in 1065, the 
decision of which is shown to have played an important part in hasten- 
ing that Conquest, the title is not without some meaning. Taking the 
Norman Conquest in the limited sense — that is, including the events of 
the three months between the battle near Hastings and the coronation 
at Christmas, 1066, and viewing the battles fought afterwards in the 
light of the suppression of rebellion — the division is a convenient one. 



The twenty years which succeed this event give an opportunity of 
explaining the reasons why the theory of a siege of Oxford is re- 
jected, and of recording the advent of Robert D'Oilgi and what he 
did for Oxford. This Chapter X. practically includes William the 
Conqueror's reign. 

At the very close of his reign, however, came the Domesday Survey. 
This was thought to be worthy of a chapter to itself, and it is treated 
somewhat fully, as it provides the data upon which it has been 
''attempted to base a description of Oxford at this time. Advantage 
has also been taken of this separate chapter to refer to such details 
respecting the plan and condition of the town or existing remains of 
buildings which did not fall so readily under the historical narrative 
in the previous chapter ; and also, since the Survey introduces many 
names of note amongst the holders of mansions in Oxford, it has not 
been thought out of place to introduce here and there such remarks as 
tend to show in what way the data, afforded in the Oxford Domesday, 
illustrate the general history of the confiscation and distribution of 
the land throughout the country by William- the Conqueror. 

This then forms Chapter XI, and with that chapter it has been 
thought well to bring to a close this contribution to the Early History 
of Oxford. The reign of William Rufus is a blank as regards Oxford, 
and all the light which is thrown upon it comes from the Domesday 
Survey, or from documents which have been introduced in illustration 
of it ; so that this chapter may be said to bring down the history of 
Oxford to the close of the eleventh century. 

Here and there, for the sake of illustrations to the descriptive 
portion, I have trenched somewhat upon the charters and other 
material belonging to the next century ; but I have avoided as far as 
possible entering upon any of the historical questions which distinctly 
belong to it. 

Throughout the treatise I have attempted to deal fairly with the 
facts before me. I have not thought it my duty to magnify the 
importance of Oxford — a duty which the majority of local historians 
seem to consider as devolving upon them. If in places I have dismissed 
popular and interesting traditions as untenable, I trust by bringing 
together a fuller summary than has yet been done of records which 
exist, I have built up, so to speak, as much as I have pulled down; 
and if I have not surrounded Oxford with a mysterious halo of glory, 
and contended for an antiquity which there is no reason to suppose 
it possessed, I still hope I may have done something to show the posi- 
tion which Oxford really occupied in the early history of the country. 



A tolerably full alphabetical index of places and persons named in 
the course of the book has been given, An alphabetical index of 
subjects I have, as a rule, found to be practically useless, since on the 
one hand it is impossible to know for certain under what word the 
subject should be indexed, and on the other hand, there cannot be many 
historical subjects, if indeed there be any, which are not associated 
with some known place or person, and which'cannot therefore be far 
more readily found in the index under such a reference ; consequently 
but a few technical words, and others under which it has been thought 
useful to group several references have been introduced. Moreover 
the somewhat full ' Table of Contents ' will, it is anticipated, supply 
a ready means of reference to the various subjects treated in the work. 

But I have kept distinct an index to the books and MSS. from 
which the data given in my work have been extracted, or which for 
various reasons may have been quoted ; and my reason for doing 
this is because I have laid so great a stress upon the importance of 
knowing whence we derive the facts on which we depend for our 
history. Scattered throughout the pages of a somewhat long index 
of names and places, the list of authorities would scarcely fulfil its 
purpose ; but arranged as it is, besides exhibiting the sources whence 
that which has been stated is deduced, it exhibits also in a measure 
what has not been explored or made use of. By turning to this index 
the student or any historian of Oxford who may make use of the material 
here brought together, can see at once what new ground he will have 
to explore or how far the ground already explored has been properly 
dealt with. I am aware that this conspectus may expose my short- 
comings, just as the printing of the originals exposes my errors in 
translation ; but if it advances in any way the true study of the history 
of Oxford I shall be only too pleased that both are exposed. 

Besides the Appendix of Documents (A), already referred to, it has 
been thought worth while to add a few pages upon the name of 
Oxford (B), upon the disputed question of Alfred's coins (C), a brief 
description of the plates (D) which the courtesy of the Committee 
have permitted me to add to the book ; and finally, as a last appendix 
(E), such minor additions, and one or two corrections, which have 
suggested themselves to me in reading the work through after it was 
printed for the purpose of making the index. 

I cannot conclude these remarks without tendering my acknowledg- 
ments to the Committee of the Oxford Historical Society — first, for the 
honour which they did me in asking me to contribute such a treatise to 
their undertaking, and next for the patience and courtesy with which 



they have treated my delay in completing the work, a delay however 
which, with my many engagements, I found to be unavoidable. To 
Mr. Madan also my thanks are especially due for the kind manner 
in which he has met so many of my suggestions, though his patience 
must have been tried by my slow progress, and for the assistance 
which in several matters he has afforded me during the revision of the 
proofs. I am also requested to tender the thanks of the Committee, 
with which I would join my own, to Col. Taylor and Mr. Basevi 
Sanders, of the Ordnance Survey, Southampton, for the facilities 
afforded in reproducing the facsimile of the page of the Domesday 
Survey relating to Oxford, which appears as the frontispiece. 

The Turl, Oxford, 
October, 1885. 

Apage igitur illos Cantabrigiensium Libros Nigros, necnon Higdeni, 
Bruntonii, Rudburni, Rossii, et aliorum recentiorum deliria ; credamus 
tantum eis quae fidem merentur; nec cum Pueris delectemur fabulis 
Antiquis novisse \ 

If I should lose time to reckon up the vaine allegations produced for the 
Antiquity of Oxford by Tvvyne, and of Cambridge by Caius, I should but 
repeat Deliria senum ; for I account the most of that they have published 
in print to be no better 2 . 

1 From the preface to Smith's Annals of University College, ed. 1728, p. x. 

2 Speech of Sir Simon D'Ewes, Knight, in the Long Parliament, Jan. 2, 
1 640-1641. 


CHAPTER I. Introductory. 


The question at what date the History of Oxford begins i 

(1) The 'mythical' history ascribes the origin of the town to Mempric, 

B.C.' 1009 ; of the University to the arrival of Greek philosophers 
at Greeklade, at an uncertain date, or to the supposed foundation 
by King Alfred in a.d. 873 1 

(2) The ' theoretical' origin of the town would be the arrival of certain 

settlers, their names and date of settlement being unknown . 2 

(3) The ' legendary' history ascribes the foundation of a nunnery here 

by S. Frideswide to a.d. 727 • . 2 

(4) The ' actual' recorded history begins with A. D. 912, when King 

Eadward the Elder took possession of Oxford .... 2 
The proposed plan of dealing with these different views of history . . 3 

CHAPTER II. The Mythical Origin of Oxford. 

John Rous at the close of the fifteenth century the first historian to combine 

the myths about Oxford into a connected series 5 

His story of the foundation by Mempric, b. c. 1009 ; the successive names of 

Oxford ; the transference from Greeklade to Beaumont ; and thence 

to within the walls of Oxford . . . . . . . 5 

Illustration of Rous's critical faculty in weighing evidence ; e. g. his reference 

to the Noachian Deluge . . 6 

Geoffrey of Monmouth's fiction of the twelfth century as to a certain Mempric 

expanded and connected with Oxford by Rous 7 

Examples of Geoffrey and Rous's habit of inventing names of persons to fit 

different places . . . . 8 

Rous fits the mythical history of Cambridge on to a passage from Geoffrey's 

romance in the same way he does that of Oxford . . . . . 9 
The Oxford Historiola, which ascribes the foundation of the University to 

Greek philosophers arriving at Greeklade 10 

Greeklade is but a perversion of Cricklade, of which the history is fairly 

well known . . . . . . . . . . .11 

Nor is there any difficulty as to the origin of the name . . . . .12 

Rous obtained part of his story from this ' Historiola] since he was in his 

youth a scholar at Oxford ... . . • • • .12 




The origin of his story of Oxford being once situated at Beaumont derived 
from the erroneous passage in the Hyde Abbey Chronicle of the close 
of the fourteenth century . . . . . . . . .13 

The Chronicon Jornallense, also late in the fourteenth century, has the story 
of Bede and of Bishop Felix founding Cambridge ; also the story of a 
school at Greeklade for Greek scholars and at Lechlade for Latin 
scholars .14 

Notes adduced to prove that Leland believed in these myths . . .16 

Of the other myths raised on an etymological basis ; origin of the name 

Bellesitum . . . . . . . . . . . .17 

The names of Caer-bossa, oiRidohen, Boso Devadoboum, Boso Ridocencis, &c. 
all attributable to Geoffrey's invention of names in his Romance, when 
he comes to the story of King Arthur 17 

The Cambridge controversy as to the relative antiquity of the two Univer- 
sities, in which the above myths are marshalled as history . . .20 

The literature of the subject : — (1) A book by John Caius of Cambridge, 
styling himself ' Londinensis,' entitled ( De Antiquitate Cantab. Acad- 
emiae, libri duo] together with (2) a treatise (to which it was supposed 
to be an answer) by Thomas Caius of Oxford, entitled ' Assertio Anti- 
quitatis Oxoniensis Academiae? both printed by John Caius in 1568 . 20 

A reprint after the death of John Caius of the two books, together with (3) 
a general history of the University of Cambridge, entitled Historia Canta- 
brigiensis Academiae , in 1574 (the whole probably edited by Archbishop 
Parker) . 22 

The treatises (1) and (2), together with (4), a MS. treatise in reply to the 
first by Thomas Caius of Oxford, entitled, 1 Animadvcrsiones? printed by 
Hearne under the title of ' Vindiciac Antiquitatis Academiae Oxoniensis? 
I730 . 23 

The speech of the Cambridge Orator (William Masters) in 1564 on Queen 

Elizabeth's visit to Cambridge, the origin of the controversy ... 24 

The speech based upon a memorandum given to the Orator by - Antiquary,' 

supposed to be John Caius 25 

The passage refers to the story in the Cambridge Black Book of a certain 

Cantaber coming over from Spain . . . . . . .25 

The argument used by the Cambridge Orator 25 

The manner in which Thomas Caius the Oxonian meets the arguments of the 
Cambridge prator is first by attacking the story of ' Cantaber,' and 
next by supporting the story of the transference from Greeklade to 
Oxford found in the Historiola. He supposes that the transference took 
place under King Alfred 26 

Incidental references to the antiquity of Oxford ; e. g. from Walter Burley's 

treatise on Aristotle 27 

The Cambridge champion, after giving the letter of 'Antiquary' and the 
Orator's speech above referred to, replies by supporting the Cambridge 
story of Cantaber, which he shows has as much authority as the Oxford 

story of Alfred . . 28 

He next attacks the fiction about Greeklade given in the Oxford Historiola . 29 
Then certain details as to Bellositum, Ridohen, &c 30 



Then the discrepancies as to when the Greeklade schools were transferred to 

He next attacks the authorities employed by the Oxford controversialists in 
support of their theories, and even that of Alfred founding the Univer- 
sity . . . 

For the sake of comparison an outline of the Cambridge fiction is given from 
the Cambridge Historiola in the Black Book, supposed to be compiled 
by Nicholas Cantelupe in the fifteenth century. The story of Cantaber 

and King Gurguntius is to be compared with that of Mempric . . 34 

The other Cambridge myths in connection with King Sigbert and Bishop 

Felix, which may be compared with the Oxford myth of King Alfred . 36 

The Cambridge stories of Lucius, Constantine, and King Arthur in connection 

with the University 3 7 

The charters granted by King Arthur and others to Cambridge . . -38 

A consideration of the controversy as a whole ...... 39 

An edition of Asser issued by Archbishop Parker in 1574, showing that the 
contemporary of King Alfred knew nothing of Oxford, much less of 
Alfred founding it 39 

A rival edition issued in 1603 under Camden's auspices, with a passage 
directly referring to Oxford and King Alfred's interest and influence 
therein 40 

There is clear evidence that the only ancient copy of Asser, viz. that in the 

Cottonian Library (but burnt in 1731), did not contain the passage . 40 

The passage first appears in Camden's Britannia, printed in 1600, and trans- 
ferred to his edition of Asser, although in the preface he professes to 
have followed Archbishop Parker's edition 41 

Some existing correspondence shows that Twyne and others had doubts about 
the passage, though Twyne implies that Archbishop Parker deliberately 
omitted it from his edition 42 

Twyne's interview with Camden in 1622, in which Camden implies he had 

followed a MS. temp. Richard II, with the passage in it . . -43 

The passage supposed to have been supplied to Camden by Sir Henry Savile 43 

A summary of the evidence as to Camden's interpolation .... 45 

The passage relating to King Alfred and the University of Oxford in the Hyde 

Abbey Chronicle 45 

The passage in full respecting King Alfred and Oxford and Grimbald's 
Crypt ; first appearing in this edition of Camden's Britannia issued 1600, 
and afterwards in his edition of Asser 1603 46 

Ralph Higden (who died 1363), in his Polychronicon, refers to King Alfred 

founding schools at Oxford 47 

The Chronicon Jornallense (fourteenth century) similarly refers to King Alfred 

founding his schools at Oxford 47 

The mistaken reference to William of Malmesbury — really to John of Glaston- 
bury, who wrote his Chronicle after 1456 48 

Rudborn, in his Historia Major, compiled circa 1440, refers to Alfred founding 

Oxford, and sending his son Ethelward there 49 

Rous treats the myth of Alfred as he treated that of Mempric, by expansion 

and addition of other circumstances 49 




He makes three different Colleges to have been founded by Alfred . . 50 
The difference between the two myths ; one that Alfred founded Oxford, the 

other that Alfred restored a previous foundation . . . . . 51 
Chronological and other objections to the story that Alfred founded Oxford . 51 
University College the result of the incorporation of certain masters enjoying 

the bequest of William of Durham in 1249 °f 3 IQ marks . . -52 
The account of that foundation, in which there is no mention of Alfred's name 

directly or indirectly . . . -53 

But in 1363 University College acquires property which led to certain law- 
suits 54 

In 1379, in order to obtain a verdict from the Court of Appeal in their favour, 

they invented the plea that their College was founded by King Alfred . 54 
The French petition and its results . . . . . . . -54 

Further pleadings . . . . 56 

The Alfred story introduced again in 1427 in the suit with the Abbot of 

Oseney . .' -57 

Bryan Twyne's Apologia, 1608 58 

He takes up the Elizabethan controversy and goes over all the points raised 
by John Caius, and adduces other arguments in favour of the antiquity 
of Oxford . ... . . . . .. ,.r .' i • % < .v* '/ ' Ipl 

His reference to the German astronomers of 1552 and 1574, viz. Peter 
Appianus and Cyprian Leowitz, quoted by Ingram as if they were 
Appian and S. Cyprian . . . . . . . . . -59 

Further arguments adduced by Twyne 60 

Hearne follows on in the same strain 61 

Followed by Ingram and numerous later writers . . . . . .61 

The myths more or less apparent in all books relating to the history of 

Oxford . . ' 61 

The thousandth anniversary of the foundation by King Alfred celebrated at 

University College in 1872 . . 62 

CHAPTER III. The Site of Oxford during the British and 
Roman Settlement. 

The site of Oxford wanting in the requirements of a British settlement . . 63 

Scant remains of British times found in Oxford 64 

Nearest points of British remains 64 

The Roman roads in the neighbourhood, viz. on the south, the great road 
from London to Bath via Pontes and Spinac, and on the north, the 

Akeman Street .65 

The cross road southward from Alchester to Dorchester . . 66 

The traces of the ancient roads in the immediate vicinity of Oxford . . 67 

The British trackways 70 

The early years of the Roman occupation of this district as gleaned from the 

Classical historians 70 




The absence of historical data during the remainder of their occupation . 74 
The Roman villas and numerous traces of Roman occupation in the neigh- 
bourhood of Oxford, but not in Oxford itself 74 

CHAPTER IV. The Site of Oxford during the Saxon Settle- 
ment to the close of the Seventh Century, 

The gradual occupation of the Oxford district by the Saxons during the sixth 

century 80 

Especial mention of Ensham and Benson, A.D.571 81 

The site of Oxford at the close of the sixth century in the midst of one great 
West Saxon kingdom which stretched from the sea on the south to 

Northumbria on the north 82 

The rise of the Mercian kingdom in the first quarter of the seventh century, 

and Wessex contracted to the district south of the Thames . . .83 
The site of Oxford therefore on the southern border of Mercia, A. D. 628 . 83 
The encroachment of Mercia upon the kingdom of Wessex as far as^Escesdun, 

A. D. 66l . . , . . .84 

The site of Oxford well within the Mercian dominions .... 84 
At the close of the century the site, though still in Mercia, probably again on 

the southern border . . . -85 

CHAPTER V. The Foundation of S. Frideswide's Nunnery, 

A.D. 727. 

The probabilities of the truth of the tradition considered by a survey of 

surrounding circumstances 86 

The Mercian king a Christian -87 

Nunneries had begun to be founded before the close of the seventh century, 

and examples of the same 87 

The circumstances of the foundation of a neighbouring Nunnery at Abingdon 

circa A. D. 675 ..89 

The removal of the Nuns to Wytham, close to Oxford 90 

The material existing for the story of the foundation of S. Frideswide's 

Nunnery . 91 

The recital of the story of the foundation prefixed to the charter of refound- 
ation of the monastery A. D. 1004 92 

Independent testimony to the existence of this charter c. 11 25 by William of 

Malmesbury, and his version of the story of the foundation . . . -93 
The story of the foundation as told in two different ' Lives of the Virgin ' . 95 
A comparison of the details of the two stories with each other, and with the 
prefatory story to the Charter, and with the story as handed down by 

William of Malmesbury 95 

S. Frideswide's parents and her early instruction ; her desire for a nun's life . 96 
She founds a Nunnery at Oxford ; her temptations . . . • • 97 

Algar, king of Leicester, pursues her .98 

In one story his servants are struck blind, in another the king himself . . 98 





S. Frideswide escapes to Binsey (or Benson) . . . . .98 

She takes refuge in a hut 99 

Her miracles ; the cure of the blind girl ; of the woodman's paralysed hand, 

of the epileptic fisherman, and of the leper . . . » . -99 

Builds an oratory at Binsey, near Seacourt 100 

Her death and burial 100 

Notes upon the name of S. Frideswide . , ■. . . . .102 

The introduction of the name Algar 102 

The difficulties as to the name Bentonia, whether Bampton or Benson . . 103 
The probabilities are perhaps in favour of Binsey being meant . . . 104 
A general view of the whole, however, points to the establishment of a 

religious community in and also near Oxford early in the eighth century 105 

CHAPTER VI. Oxford a Border-town during the Eighth and 
Ninth Centuries. 

Oxford may now be spoken of by name 107 

Situated on the Thames, it is a border-town between the two kingdoms of 

Mercia and Wessex .107 

The capture of Somerton, a.d. 733, by the Mercian King Ethelbald, probably 

has no reference to this district . . . . . . . no 

The battle of Burford, A. d. 752, implies that the West Saxons under King 
Cuthred conquered the southern part of Mercia, and Oxford was again 
within the West Saxon kingdom . ' 108 

The Battle of Benson, a.d. 777, implies that the Mercian King Offa won 

back to Mercia all that his predecessor had lost . . . . . 109 

The Mercian conquest stretched southward to the long range of the Berk- 
shire hills between Wallingford and Ashbury, so that Oxford was again 
well within the Mercian territory .110 

Ashbury seems to mark the county boundary between Berkshire and Wilt- 
shire . no 

Under Egbert, who succeeded a. d. 800, the West Saxon power progressed, 
and that of Mercia declined, and the foundation of the one kingdom 
being laid, Oxford ceased to be a border town . . . . .in 

CHAPTER VII. The Danish Incursions in the Ninth and 
Tenth Centuries. 

The Danes began their ravages in Wessex a. d. 832. In 851 they ventured 

as far up the Thames as London, reaching Reading in 871 . . .113 
Their further progress checked by the battle of ^Escesdun, a.d. 871 . .114 

The details of the battle of yEscesdun 115 

King /Elfred is not recorded to have visited Oxford at all . . . .116 
King Eadward takes possession of Oxford a.d. 912 ..... 116 
It is presumed that at this time Oxford was fortified . . . . . 117 

The Castle mound the chief fortification 117 

The natural advantages of Oxford as regards fortification . . . .118 
The general aspect of the town of Oxford at this date . . . . .119 




The road from the north into Oxford and that from the south over ' the ford' 

meet in the centre of Oxford 120 

The growth of Oxford round that centre whence roads went east and west . 121 
S. Martin's at Carfax the first church built in the centre . . . .121 

The other parishes congregated round it 122 

On the authority of the earliest record of Oxford, i. e. under a. d. 912, in the 

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 122 

The various editions of the Chronicle . 123 

A. The Winchester Chronicle in C. C. C. Cambridge. No. CLXXIII. 

Earlier portion of the Ninth century. 

B. The Canterbury Chronicle in the Cottonian Library. Tiber. A. VI. 

Earlier portion of the Tenth century. 

C. The Abingdon Chronicle in the Cottonian Library. Tiber. B. I, 

Eleventh century. 

D. The Worcester Chronicle in the Cottonian Library. Tiber. B. IV. 

Eleventh century. 

E. The Peterborough Chronicle in the Bodleian Library. Laud. 636. 

Twelfth century. 

F. Another Chronicle in the Cottonian Library. Domit. A. VIII. 

Twelfth century. 

Some account of the chroniclers who chiefly copy the above, viz. Florence of 
Worcester, writing before 11 18; Simeon of Durham, before 11 20; 
Henry of Huntingdon, in 11 35 ; Geoffrey of Gaimar, c. 1150 . . 125 
On the meaning to be attached to the expression ' took possession of Oxford,' 

in the Chronicle A. D. 912 127 

The probable origin of the county of Oxford . . . . . .129 

The existence of the various Wessex shires, and their nomenclature . .129 
The demarcation of the Mercian shires, and their nomenclature after the 

central towns . . . . 13 1 

The year 912 sees Oxford both a fortified town and the centre of a shire . 134 
^Elfward, King Eadward's son, dies at Oxford a. d. 924 .... 135 

Supposed to have been a studious man .136 

The policy of Eadward as regards Mercia carried on by his three sons, 925- 

955 136 

On the death of Eadred, a. D. 975, dissensions begin, and the Danes, taking 

advantage of the same, again ravage the kingdom . . . .137 
The ecclesiastical history of the district during the tenth century . . .138 
The diocese of Dorchester and the Bishops of the same . . . .138 
S. Frideswide's monastery and the supposed expulsion of the monks and intro- 
duction of secular canons .139 

The synod near Oxford at Kyrtlington, and death of the Bishop of Crediton 
BJb there •., ; .-V *• . . . 140 

CHAPTER VIII. Oxford during the Danish Invasion in the 


The disastrous reign of yEthelred the Unready 141 

The massacre of S. Brice, and how it affected Oxford, A. d. 1002 . . . 141 

b % 




The story told in the Cartulary of S. Frideswide, and the restoration of 

S. Frideswide's monastery in 1004 142 

The lands there given or confirmed to S. Frideswide's 143 

The signatures to iEthelred's charter agree with the date 1004 . . . 144 

The story as told by William of Malmesbury 144 

The error of William of Malmesbury in confusing the massacre of the Danes 

in 1002 with the assassination of Sigeferth and Morkere in 1015 . . 146 

The story of the massacre as told by Henry of Huntingdon . . . . 147 

General state of the kingdom at this time 148 

The Danish invasion continued ; the Danes gain possession of the Berkshire 

hills by marching to Cwichelmshloewe 149 

.^Lthelred's miserable policy continued 149 

The Danes, having marched out through Chiltern, burn Oxford, a. d. 1009 . 151 

They again visit Oxfordshire, A. d. 1010 . . ... . . 151 

Oxford submits to the Danish King Sweyn, a. d. 1013 152 

The Gemot at Oxford, and Sigeferth and Morkere, the chief Thanes of the 

Seven Burghs, treacherously slain there, a. d. 1015 . . . .153 

The assassination attributed to Eadric 154 

Eadric's treachery shown throughout, and its consequences . . . . 155 

King Ethelred dies, a. d. 1016 157 

Eadmund Ironside succeeds, and attempts to drive out the Danes . . . 157 

The treaty at Olney, near Gloucester, in November 1016 .... 158 
Eadmund assassinated, probably at Oxford, on his way back to London, 

November 30, 1016 158 

The story as told by the chroniclers Henry of Huntingdon, William of 

Malmesbury, &c .158 

Consideration of the surrounding circumstances 159 

Reasons for supposing Henry of Huntingdon had good authority for his 

statement . 160 

Gemot at Oxford under King Cnut, A. D. 1018, where Danes and Angles were 

unanimous for Eadgar's law 161 

The Witan probably met in the Castle precincts 162 

The historical associations of the Castle at this time 162 

CHAPTER IX. Oxford during the Forty Years before the 
Norman Conquest. 

The Church of S. Martin erected, the land being granted by King Cnut to 

Abingdon Abbey, 1039 I ^4 

The nature of that grant 165 

The poor condition of S. Frideswide's 165 

A passage relating to S. Frideswide's being granted to an Abbot of Abingdon, 

and the secular canons expelled, and for a time monks instituted . .166 
A passage given in Leland's Collectanea from a Rochester Chronicle 

relating to the Canons of S. Frideswide's 167 




The importance of Abingdon Abbey as contrasted with that of S. Frideswide, 

and its acquisition of property on the Berkshire side of the river . .168 
The rise of the monastery of Ensham on the west of Oxford, originally an 

adjunct to S. Mary at Stowe, Lincolnshire 170 

St. Ebbe's Church at Oxford belonged to the same 170 

The diocese of Dorchester and its Bishops up to the Norman Conquest . 171 
Bishop Eadnoth, Bishop Ulf, and Bishop Wlfwi . . . . .172 

On the death of Cnut a Gemot of the Witan at Oxford in 1036, and the claim 

of Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut 173 

Harold Harefoot dies at Oxford, 1039 175 

Note of an incident while Harold was lying ill at Oxford . . . . 175 

Accession of Eadward the Confessor in 1042 176 

Note respecting his birth at Islip, near Oxford 176 

Division of the kingdom into Earldoms, and the question whether Oxford 

was in Earl Alfgar's dominion 178 

The Portreeve of Oxford and the Sheriff of Oxfordshire, c. 105 1 . . . 179 
Harold, in the expedition against Gruffydd of Wales in 1063, passes through 

Oxford on the way . . . . . . . . .180 

The great Gemot at Oxford, Oct. 28, 1065, when Tostig, Harold's brother, 

was outlawed, and Mork ere made Earl of Northumberland . . . 181 
The Gemot first held at Northampton, and immediately afterwards at Oxford 182 
The explanation of the change of place of meeting . . . . .182 

The rebel mob accompany Morkere 183 

The deplorable results of the decisions of the Gemot . . . . .183 

The Danish code of laws renewed at Oxford . . . . . . 183 

Eadward the Confessor's death, Jan. 5, 1066 . . • . . . 184 

King Harold goes to help Eadwine and Morkere against Tostig and Harold 

Hardrada, while William, Duke of Normandy, lands in Sussex, Oct. 14, 

1066 185 

CHAPTER X. Oxford during the Twenty Years after the 
Norman Conquest. 

King William's march after the Battle near Hastings 186 

The story as told in two of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, in Florence of 

Worcester, in Simeon of Durham, and in William of Poitiers . .186 

One Anglo-Saxon Chronicle takes William direct from Sussex to Beorham- 
stede, where the Archbishop of York, Eadgar, and Earls Eadwine and 
Morkere, meet him, and then to Westminster 187 

Florence of Worcester names the counties which he ravaged on his way, 
makes him go to Beorcham, where the above meet him in addition to 
the Bishops of Worcester and Hereford, and then to Westminster . 187 

William of Malmesbury makes him go direct to London in a royal progress, 
and both the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and Eadwine and 
Morkere, come to meet him 187 

Henry of Huntingdon simply makes the people of London receive him 

peaceably 187 




William of Poitiers makes him go to London, where he is met by a hostile 
force ; then to ravage Southwark, and afterwards to cross by a ford and 
bridge to Guarengeford, where Stigand meets him ; afterwards the 
people of London meet him, and then he goes to Barking . . 187 
Discrepancies in the stories told by different chroniclers, and doubts as to 

whether William marched near to Oxford 191 

The theory based upon piecing together the several accounts and omitting 

discrepancies . . . 193 

On the supposed siege of Oxford after William's coronation . . .193 
The doubts suggested from historical considerations concerning the political 

status of Mercia 194 

The evidence derived from the MSS., showing that the misreading of Oxonia 
for Exonia has been the cause of the error of the statements of the 
historians r' ■" ■ 'i'*' ' j' ,4 . i . 195" 

A summary of the historians as to William's march to Exeter . . .196 
The error begun in the transcript of Roger of Wendover which was made for 
Matthew of Westminster, the original being preserved in C. C. C. 

Cambridge 4 .198 

On the question of an unrecorded siege . . . . . . . 199 

The destruction of the large number of houses in Oxford to be accounted for 
by the advent of the rebel mob on Oct. 28, 1065, rather than by an 
imaginary siege by Duke William . . . . . . .200 

Robert D'Oilgi builds, or rather strengthens, the Castle at Oxford, a. d. 1071 202 

The probable character of his work 203 

The policy of William in erecting castles 204 

Robert D'Oilgi with Roger of Ivry found the Church of S. George in the 

Castle 206 

The entries in the Oseney Annals 206 

The English version of the Charters in the Oseney Cartulary . . . 207 

The grants of land in Walton Manor 208 

The, Church of S. Mary Magdalene built outside the North gate and given to 

St. George's . ........... 209 

Description of S. George's Church in the Castle — the Tower and the Crypt . 210 
The character of Robert D'Oilgi drawn by the Abingdon chronicler . .210 
He takes away from the Abbey King's Mead, which lay outside the town 

near the Castle . . . .210 

But eventually restores it ■. . . .214 

Incidental note of his being rowed to Abingdon from Oxford . . . 214 
He is recorded to have repaired the Parish Churches in Oxford . . .215 
The Parish Churches then in existence . . . . . . .216 

The removal of the Bishopric from Dorchester to Lincoln by Remigius . 216 
The exhibition of the relics of S. Egwin at Oxford by the Monks of Evesham 218 
Robert D'Oilgi builds Hythe Bridge . . . . . . . . 21S 

The entrance to Oxford from the West . 219 

The Castle bridges 220 



CHAPTER XI. The Description of Oxford in 1086 as given 
in the Domesday Survey. 


The nature of the Domesday Survey and its origin . . . . .221 
The probable date of its completion . . . f . . .222 

The portion of the Survey relating to Oxford in a tabulated form . . • . 223 
That relating to the possessions of Robert D'Oilgi in Oxford . . .225 

On the reference to the 'Time of King Eadward' 226 

The payments to the King and Earl ^Elfgar, T. K. E. . . . .226 
Summary of the numbers of the houses held by tenants whose names are given 227 
The probable population, based upon the number of houses . . .228 
The increase of the population in Oxford every ten years during the present 

century, and the relative increase of houses . . . . .229 

A table showing houses and population within and without the city wall in 

1801 and 1 88 1 respectively 230 

The increase of Oxford entirely external to the old line of City wall . . 231 
Probable character of the houses in Oxford in the eleventh century . .232 
Illustrations of the term Vastae from similar entries in Domesday concerning 

other towns ......... . 233 

The distinction of the domus and mansio . . . . . . -235 

The mural mansions, and the evidence that Oxford was surrounded by a 

fortification of some kind .236 

The probable line of the City fortifications 237 

The King's twenty mansions 238 

The King's five mansions belonging to manors 239 

The twelve mansions of Earl Alberic and W 239 

The sixty mansions belonging to the Bishops 240 

The twenty-eight mansions belonging to the three Abbeys of St. Edmund (?), 

Abingdon, and Ensham . . . .... . . . 241 

Notes on the foundation of Ensham Abbey from the Registers . . . 242 

St. Ebbe's Church in connection with Ensham 243 

The mansions belonging to the Earl of Mortain, Earl Hugh, Earl of Evreux, 

and Henry of Ferrieres . . . . . . . . . 244 

The mansions belonging to William Peverel, Edward the Sheriff, and 

Ernulph of Hesding *' . . . . 246 

The mansions belonging to Berenger of Todeni, Milo Crispin, and Richard 
> ofCurci . .. ... -. 4 ,'. ' . . • - 247 

The mansions belonging to Robert D'Oilgi in Oxford as well as in Holywell 248 

The Church of S. Peter's in the East 250 

The plan of the Crypt compared with that of ancient crypts elsewhere . 252 

The architectural details of the Crypt 253 

The difficulties of reconciling the architectural features with the history . 254 
The mansions belonging to Roger of Ivry, Rannulph Flammard, Wido of 

Reinbodcurth, and Walter Gifard 255 

The mansions belonging to Jermio and to the son of Manasses . . .257 




The mansions belonging to the Priests of S. Michael's .... 258 

The Church and Tower of S. Michael at Northgate 258 

The question whether the work was military, as implied by the hourdes, or 

ecclesiastical, as implied by the belfry windows 259 

The fifteen mansions belonging to S. Frideswide's 261 

The land of the Canons of S. Frideswide's in and near Oxford . . . 262 
The names of tenants, from the Domesday Survey, e. g. Coleman, William, 

Spracheling, Wlwi, &c. . . . . . . . . 264 

Some of these names occur in the Abingdon Chronicle. .... 264 

The names of Harding, Leveva, Ailric, and Derman, &c 267 

Swetman the Moneyer . . . . 268 

Sewi, Alveva, Leuric, Sawold, &c 269 

Considerations how far the mansions in the first list represent the manors in 

the neighbourhood, and the others the Oxford residents . . .271 

Other names of supposed residents in Oxford derived from other sources . 273 

The general appearance of Oxford at the time of the Survey . . . 275 
The general aspect of the Castle and its surroundings . . . .276 

The effect of the ' waste' houses upon the aspect of the town . . . 277 

The business carried on in Oxford, the market, fairs, &c 278 

The gemots and courts held in Oxford 279 

The Oxford Laws enrolled in the Domesday Survey . . . ... 280 

How far these laws agree with those previously in force . . . .281 

The Hustengs Court and Portmannimot 282 

The Castle garrison 283 

S. Frideswide's and the other churches 283 

The eight churches recorded to be in existence by 1087 . . . . 284 
How far Oxford was separated into Parishes according to the districts 

assigned to the above churches 284 

Eight additional churches named in the Charter supposed to have been 

granted to S. Frideswide's by Henry I 285 

The Rubrics relating to the above churches in S. Frideswide's cartulary . 285 

Considerations as to S. Mildred's Church 287 

As to that of S. Eadward's Church 290 

As to that of S. Aldate's Church 291 

As to that of S. Budoc's Church . . 294 

The streets in Oxford 297 

The Bridges 298 

The Mills 299 

Port Meadow 300 

The Sheriffs and the Port Reeves 301 

The visits of William I and William II to the neighbourhood of Oxford . 303 

The government of Oxford after the Norman Conquest .... 303 





Passages quoted in Chapter II on the Mythical Origin of Oxford. 


§ I. Rous. On Mempric and Greeklade . .... 305 

§ 2. Ibid. Illustration from his treatment of the Deluge .... 306 

§ 3. Geoffrey of Monmouth. Reference to Mempric 306 

§ 4. Ibid. Illustration of his treatment of names of places. . . . 306 

§ 5, 6. Rous. „ „ „ .... 307 

§ 7. Rous. On Ganteber the builder of Cambridge 307 

§ 8. Oxford Chancellors' Book. The Historia 307 

§ 9. Hyde Abbey Chronicle. The University outside the Northgate . . 308 

§ 10. Bromton. Cambridge founded by Beda 309 

§11. Leland. Passage supporting the mythical history of Oxford . . 309 
§12. Geoffrey of Monmouth. Boso Devadoboum, Ridocen, &c. . .310 
§ 13. John Caius. Professes to settle the dispute as to the greater antiquity 

of Oxford or Cambridge 310 

§ 14. Speech of the Cambridge orator before Queen Elizabeth . . .311 

§ 15. Nicholas Cantelupe. The Cambridge Historiola . . . . 311 

§16. Hyde Abbey Chronicle. Foundation of the University by Alfred . 312 

§ 17. Camden's Asser. The interpolated passage in re Alfred and Oxford . 312 
§ 18. Higdens Polychronicon. Alfred and the Oxford schools . . -313 

§ 19. Bromton. Alfred and the Oxford schools 314 

§ 20. Rudborne's Historia Major. Ethelward educated at Oxford, &c. . 314 

§ 21. Rous. Story of Alfred's foundation of Oxford 315 

§ 22. Petition to Parliament. The Petition of University College claiming 

Alfred as their founder 316 

§ 23. Plea of Richard Witton. Master of University College asserting that 

Alfred was founder 316 

Passages quoted in Chapter IV. Oxford during the Saxon 
Settlement to the close of the seventh century. 

§ 24. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle a.d. 571. The capture of Ensham, Benson, &c. 317 
§ 25. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle a.d. 661. The Mercian King reaches ^Escesdun 317 

Passages quoted in Chapter V. The foundation of S. Frides- 
wide's Nunnery. 

§ 26. Bede, Eccl. Hist. Before English nunneries were founded women were 

sent abroad to be educated .318 

§ 27. Abingdon Abbey Chronicle. The foundation of the Nunnery at 

Abingdon 318 




§ 28. Abingdon Abbey Chronicle. The nuns removed to Wytham . . 318 
§ 29. Chief charter relating to the restoration of S. Frideswide's in 1004, an d 

reciting the original foundation in 727 319 

§ 30. William of Malmesbury {Gest. Pont.). An account of S. Frideswide . 323 
§ 31. MS. life of S. Frideswide in Bodleian. Her burial and enlargement of 

the Church 323 

§ 32. Annals of Winton. Queen Fritheswitha 323 

Passages quoted in Chapter VI. Oxford a Border Town. 

§ 33. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle A.D. 777. Offa takes Benesington . . . 324 
§ 34. Abingdon Abbey Chronicle. Offa takes the land from Wallingford to 

Ashbury . . . . . . . . . . . 324 

Passages quoted in Chapter VII. Oxford during the Danish 
Incursions in the ninth and tenth centuries. 

§ 35. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle A.D. 912. Eadward takes Oxford . . . 324 

§ 36. Florence of Worcester. ,, 324 

§ 37. Simeon of Durham. „ „ 325 

§ 38. Henry of Huntingdon. „ „ 325 

§ 39. Geoffrey Gaimar. „ „ 325 

§ 40. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle A.D. 924. Eadward's son dies at Oxford . 325 

§41. Florence of Worcester. „ 326 

§42. William of Malmesbury {Gest. Regum). Ethelward versed in literature 326 

Passages quoted in Chapter VIII. Oxford during the Danish 


§ 43. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle A.D. 1002. The Massacre of S. Brice . . 326 
§ 44. William of Malmesbury {Gest. Reguni). A mixed version of the story 

of S. Brice and events of 1015 326 

§45. Henry of Huntingdon. The massacre of S. Brice .... 327 
§ 46. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1006. The Danes march over ^Escesdun 

to Cwichelmeshlcewe . . . . . . . . • 3 2 7 

§ 47. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1009. The Danes burn Oxford . . 327 

§48. Florence of Worcester. „ ,, . . 328 

§ 49. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1010. ./Ethelred's ' unreadiness ' . . 328 

§ 50. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1013. Oxford submits to Sweyn . . 328 

§51. Florence of Worcester. ,, „ 328 

§ 52. William of Malmesbury {Gest. Rcgum). The Oxford and Winchester 

men obey 'Sweyn's law' 328 

§ 53. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1015. The Gemot at Oxford, and Sige- 

ferth and Morkere slain 329 

§ 54. Florence of Worcester. „ . 329 

CONTENTS. xxvii- 


§ 55. Henry of Huntingdon. The Gemot at Oxford, and Sigeferth and 

Morkere slain " . . t .329 

§ 56. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1016. Eadmund dies .... 329 

§ 57. Henry of Huntingdon. Eadmund treacherously murdered at Oxford . 330 
§ 58. William of Malmesbury (Gest. Reguni). Eadmund treacherously 

murdered '. . ■ . . . . . .... '> * . 330 

§59. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1018. 'Eadgar's law' proclaimed at 

Oxford 230 

Passages quoted in Chapter IX. Oxford during the forty 


§60. Abingdon Chronicle. Building of S.Martin's Church, Oxford, a.d. 1034 33° 
§ 61. Cartulary of S. Frideswide. A vague account of the substitute of 

Regulars for Seculars 331 

§ 62. Extract from a ' Chronicon Rofense.' As to Canons instituted at 

S. Fridewide's, a.d. 1049 332 

§ 63. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1049. Death of Eadnoth, Bishop of 

Dorchester and succession of Ulf . . . . . . 332 

§ 64. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1049. Bishop Ulf an unfit Bishop . . 332 
§ 65. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1053, &c. Wulfwi succeeds Ulf and 

dies 1667 . t ' . , . . , , 4 . . 332 

§ 66. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1036. Gemot at Oxford, and Harold 

chosen King 333 

§ 67. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1039. King Harold Harefoot dies at 

Oxford 333 

§ 68. Canterbury Charter. Messenger from Canterbury visits Harold when 

lying ill at Oxford .......... 333 

§ 69. Westminster Charter. Incidental mention of Eadward's birth at Islip 

near Oxford 333 

§ 70. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1065. The great Gemot at Oxford; 

Harold agrees to the outlawry of Tostig 334 

§ 71. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1065. „ „ . . 334 

§72. Florence of Worcester. „ „ . -334 

§73. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1065. The march of the rebel mob from 

the north 334 

Passages quoted in Chapter X. Oxford during the twenty 


§ 74. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1066. The march of William to Beorh- 

hamstede is met by Archbishop and Earls, &c. . . ... 335 

§ 75. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1066. After Hastings, William is 

crowned in London . . . 335 

§ 76. Florence of Worcester. William goes to Beorcham .... 335 

§77. William of Malmesbury. William goes to London .... 336 

§ 78. Henry of Huntingdon. William is crowned at Westminster . . 336 




§ 79. William of Poictiers. William goes to London via Guarengefort . 336 

§ 80. William of Jumieges. „ . 337 

§ 81. William of Poictiers. After his coronation William goes to Bercingis 337 
§ 82. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a.d. 1067. William first quells the rebellion 

at Exeter, then at York 337 

§ 83. Florence of Worcester. „ ,, 338 

§ 84. William of Malmesbury. „ „ .• 338 

§ 85. Roger of Wendover. „ „ . 33' 
§ 86. Cartulary of Oseney. Robert D'Oilgi's foundation of S. George's in the 

Castle and S. Mary Magdalen Church 338 

§87. Cartulary of Oseney. Roger of Ivry's gifts to the same . . . 339 
§ 88. Abingdon Abbey Chronicle. Robert D'Oilgi appointed ' Constable ' 

of Oxford and takes away King's Mead from Abingdon Abbey . 339 
§ 89 Abingdon Abbey Chronicle. Robert D'Oilgi restores the churches of 

Oxford and builds Hythe Bridge 340 

§ 90. Charter of King William. Removes the See of Dorchester to Lincoln 340 

§ 91. Evesham Chronicle. The relics of S. Egwin exhibited at Oxford . 341 

Passages quoted in Chapter XI. The description of Oxford as 


§ 92. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1085. The making of the Domesday 

Survey 341 

§93. Domesday Survey. The portion relating to the City of Oxford . .341 

§ 94. Domesday Survey. Robert D'Oilgi's lands at Oxford . . . 344 
§ 95. Charter of King William. The connection between S. Mary of Stowe 

and Ensham 344 

§ 96. Charter of King William. „ „ „ . 345 

§ 97. Charter of Bishop Remigius conferring S. Ebbe's Church, to Ensham . 345 

§ 98. Charter of Henry I conferring possessions in Oxford to Ensham . . 345 

§ 99. Domesday Survey. The possessions of the Canons of S. Frideswide . 345 
§ 100. Abingdon Abbey Chronicle. Houses purchased in Oxford by Abbot 

Faritius . . ... . . . . . . 346 

§ 1 01. Domesday Survey. Laws promulgated at Oxford .... 346 

§ 102. William of Malmesbury. The Story of S. Mildred .... 347 

§ 103. Abingdon Abbey Chronicle. William Rufus greets Peter, the Sheriff 

of Oxfordshire, and mentions his port- reeve Eadwi . . -347 




The Name of Oxford. 


The two theories as to the origin of the name, i.e. (a) 'The ford of the Oxen/ 

(6) 'The ford of the Ouse' 348 

The earliest forms of the name, i.e. Oxnaforda, Oxenefcfrda, &c., in the Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicle 348 

The earliest forms on coins 349 

The forms adopted by the Chroniclers and the name Oxonia . . . 349 

The earliest forms point to the name being ' The ford of the Oxen ' . . 350 
Considerations as to a ford being set apart for Oxen and a note of landmarks 

and places bearing the word Ox 350 

The objections to the theory of the ford of the Ouse to be met by analogies 351 
The objection of a Celtic affix and Saxon suffix met by examples of Ex- 
minster, Axminster, &c • 35 1 

The objection of the change of Ouseford or Ousanford into Oxford . .352 

The dialectic forms of Ouse, e.g. Usk, Exe, Axe 352 

Evidence from the Roman Isca . 353 

Reference to places with the syllable Ouse . . . . . . 355 

The example of Osanig in Archbishop ^Elfric's will, afterwards Oxhey . -355 

The example of Osanlea 356 

The objection that the Thames at Oxford was never found to bear the 

name of Ouse 357 

The probabilities of the original names, to be viewed by reflected light . 357 

The Roman Tam-esis no doubt the Celtic Tam-ese 357 

Ese or Ise a dialectic form of Ouse; also Oise 358 

The direct evidence of the island in the river Thames at Oxford being called 

Ouseneye ; original name not Oxen eye 359 

Tempsford on the Ouse called Tam-ese-ford, that is the ford over the 

Tam-ese 359 

The Thame and the Thames 361 

The Thame and Isis, as origin of Thamisis, according to Leland, Camden, &c. 36 2 
The analogy of the form of Ock river which falls into the Thames at 

Abingdon ; 363 

Comparison of Eoccene-ford and Ousanford 364 

The summary of the evidence 364 


On the Coins supposed to have been struck at Oxford during 
King Alfred's Reign. 

A particular type of coin supposed to connect King Alfred with Oxford . 366 
The late Mr. Green's argument derived from the supposed existence of Oxford 

coins with Alfred's name on them 3 66 

The discovery of coins near Sephton in Lancashire in 1611 . . . . 3^7 




The ' Orsnaford' coin and the interpretation by Spelman, Walker, Sir Andrewe 

Fountaine, Thoresby, and Wise 368 

The great discovery of coins at Cuerdale in Lancashire in 1840 . . . 370 

The type with the letters Orsna-forda . . 370 

The varieties of this type of coin on the Cuerdale series . . . . 371 
The probable date of the deposition of the hoard derived from the dates of 

the coins themselves . 373 

The large number of the ' S. Edmund ' coins 373 

The rudeness of the workmanship 374 

Three thousand coins with them apparently collected on the continent . . 375 
The probability that the coins were not issued from an authorised mint . 376 
The difficulty of accounting for the circumstance of the supposed Oxford 

coins being only found on the banks of the Ribble . . . .376 
A list of the various readings of specimens in the Bodleian, British Museum, 

Wadham College, &c 377 

The peculiarity of the inscription being always across the coins in three lines 378 
The improbability of the name of the mint being on the obverse together 

with the name of the King, while the name of the moneyer is on the 

reverse . . . . 379 

The rule that names of places are always abbreviated on early coins points 

to the improbability of Orsnaforda being the name of the place of 

mint 379 

The invariable introduction of the letter R into the name militates against 

the letters being intended for Oxford 381 

The difficulty of deciding upon what was the type specimen from which the 

moneyer or moneyers have diverged . . . . .381 
The evidence is adduced for the exercise of the reader's judgment . .382 


Brief notes respecting the plates accompanying this volume. 

I. The Frontispiece, i. e. the first page of the portion of the Domesday 

Survey relating to Oxfordshire . . . . . . -383 

Some notes on the MS. of the Domesday Book 383 

A list of the Tenentes in Capite as shown on the facsimile . . . 384 
II. A plan of the neighbourhood of Oxford chiefly to illustrate Chapter III. 385 
The difficulties in tracing the lines of the old Roman Roads . . 385 
The use of the map in illustrating other points referred to in the volume 386 
III. A plan of Oxford chiefly to illustrate Chapter XI. .... 387 

The line of the ancient boundary of the city . ... . . .387 

The churches and the parish boundaries 387 

Addenda and Corrigenda. 

Ingulph made to come up to Oxford (p. 43) 389 

Examples of the name Alfgar, from a MS. and from charters given in Ingulph 

(p. 97) . . . . - s . * .• • ; . i .... 390 




Alfred's sovereignty over Mercia (p. 127) 391 

Bishops of Dorchester: Alheard, Ceolwulf, yEscwin, &c. (p. 138) . .391 

Death of Bishop Sideman at Kirtlington (p. 140) 392 

The story of the stolen bridle and the interference of Winsige, Reeve of 

Oxford (p. 140) 392 

The pilgrimage of the Oxford citizen to the tomb of /Ethelwold (p. 140) . 393 

The Laws promulgated at Woodstock, at Wantage, and at Ensham (p. 153) 394 

Death of Eadnoth, Bishop of Dorchester (p. 172) »*" . . . . 395 

Bishops Ethelric and Wulfwi (p. 172) . 395 

William of Malmesbury's account of Remigius (p. 217) .... 396 

Charter of William Rufus to Ensham respecting their Oxford property (p. 242) 396 
The names of the moneyers at Oxford during the reigns of William and 

William II. (p. 269) . . . . „ . . . 397 

INDEX chiefly of Persons and Places 399 

INDEX of Authors and MSS. referred to 413 

A Plan of the Neighbourhood of Oxford chiefly to illus- 
trate Chapter III At end. 

A Plan of Oxford chiefly to illustrate Chapter XI . . „ 





To the question 'At what date does the history of Oxford begin?' 
more than one answer may be given ; and they will vary according to 
the sense in which the term history is used and the method which has 
been adopted in investigating it. Many seem unconsciously to accept 
certain myths, which although they do not appear to have had 
their existence before the close of the fourteenth and beginning of 
the fifteenth century, are so intermingled with the real history 
in the literature of succeeding centuries that without considerable 
care it is impossible to distinguish the two ; while some, although 
admitting their mythical character, seem to think that the stories 
should be accepted 1 generally,' on the ground that so many writers 
of note, and learned in their generation, have unequivocally endorsed 
them, and that they, therefore, ought not now to be wholly set 
aside. Those who adopt such as history would give the name of 
Mempric as the founder of Oxford, and the date b.c 1009 as that of 
the foundation of the city : while as to the University some would say 
that it depended either upon the date when the Greek philosophers 
arrived at Greeklade, or when they were transferred to Oxford; others, 
discarding a portion of the myth (and not observing that the whole 
hangs together, or falls together), would insist upon Alfred being if 
not the restorer, at least the founder of the University, and therefore 
that it should be dated to begin from the year 873 or thereabouts. 

But others, while throwing aside such fables, would contend that the 
History of a place does not begin with its first mention in public 
annals. Taking a philosophical view, they would hold that Oxford, 
following the natural laws which have governed the growth of most 
cities, owes its origin to some original settler or settlers, who have left 



no trace of their name, and that the precise period when this took 
place or the race to which these hypothetical settlers belonged are to 
be conjectured only by taking a general survey of the district, and 
bringing to bear upon it what records may exist in the early chroni- 
cles of the country. This course of argument, though in principle 
theoretical, still involves several historical considerations and differs 
altogether from the mythical, which has been before referred to. But 
from the nature of the evidence no exact date at all would be 

Besides the mythical and the theoretical origin of Oxford, there is 
the legendary, and with those who accept this as history there is a 
date which with reason may be insisted on, namely the year 727 (or 
thereabouts), at which time there is some evidence for fixing the 
foundation of a nunnery upon the spot now occupied by Christ 
Church. It might further be claimed that the foundation of such an 
establishment implies the existence of some 1 vill/ and that from this 
date onwards Oxford had a place in the pages of the real history of 
the country. 

Lastly, there is the truly historical method, in following which not 
only myth but also legend are set on one side, and only facts duly 
recorded in documents of undoubtedly genuine character are adduced 
in evidence. The answer which would be given to those who follow 
this method would be that the history of Oxford cannot be traced 
further back than a.d. 912 when King Edward the Elder took posses- 
sion of the place. By these it would however be at once conceded 
that there were habitations here before that date, and that Oxford had 
already received a name, the same or similar to that recorded in the 
chronicle, but this concession would not be destructive of the view 
that the known date should be assigned as that of the beginning of the 
actual history of Oxford. 

The mythical history, possessing unlimited powers of expansion and 
being perhaps more attractive in its character from appearing more 
wonderful, has assumed an importance which renders it absolutely 
impossible to deal with it according to its intrinsic merits. It may be 
said to have supplanted the real history of the beginning of Oxford, 
and in consequence, although it is felt that the investigation of the 
growth of the myth is a waste of time, and that printing an account 
of the controversy as to the relative antiquity of the two Universities is 
a waste of space, and the whole business tedious and irritating, still it 
has been thought necessary before giving the historical date touching 
the rise of Oxford to deal with these myths, and point out, as far as 



may be, their origin, and the part they played in the controversy which 
took place in Elizabeth's reign (and was at times continued by writers 
down to the eighteenth century if not later) in order to clear the 
ground for discussing the evidence we possess bearing upon the real 
history of the town of Oxford. So closely however connected with 
the myth of Mempric are the myths respecting Greeklade and the 
foundation of the University of Oxford before' the time of Alfred, that 
they cannot be separated, and the restoration by that king of the Uni- 
versity and the foundation of University College, as guessed by some, 
and the foundation of the University itself by others, follow on so 
closely that in taking either a view of the mythical history of Oxford 
or of the controversies this latter part cannot be omitted. 

It will be found therefore that several pages are devoted to this 
question, on the one hand far more than it at all deserves, but on the 
other far less than the part it plays in the literature of the subject might 
seem to demand. 

Next, although it is not supposed that there were any dwellings on 
the actual site of Oxford during the time of the Roman invasion or 
occupation of Britain, it has been thought well to point out the rela- 
tion which that site bore to the historical events which we find 
narrated concerning this part of the country; and also its position 
in respect to the historical memorials of the neighbourhood, namely, 
those which the soil affords, either in the ancient roads which can be 
traced, or the camps which can still be seen, or the remains which 
are from time to time brought to the surface by excavations. 

Next, it has been thought well to continue such remarks during the 
times of the Saxon settlement, for though Oxford is not mentioned 
by name, nor is there any reason to associate the spot with any event 
recorded till 727 when a nunnery was perhaps founded there, still as 
there is reason to suppose that it had its beginning in this period 
such remarks will not be out of place, but in accordance with the 
views of those w T ho hold that only a theoretical origin can reasonably 
be assigned to the town, and that the foundation of S. Frideswide's 
nunnery only implies its previous existence. 

In treating of the foundation of S. Frideswide's it has been thought 
necessary to touch upon such details of her life as show the legendary 
character of the biographies of the Saint which we possess, and from 
them to deduce all that can be reasonably deduced to support the 
story of the foundation ; but it is not intended to supply a complete 
narrative of her adventures and miracles; such will no doubt be 
hereafter written. After this, as we find Oxford named in the legend, 

b 2 



though not in direct records, it will be spoken of as having a definite 
existence ; and the history of the surrounding district will be briefly 
touched upon, reflecting as it does some light, though but little, upon 
the probable trials of a border town. 

In 912 we find Oxford named in the pages of the chronicles in 
connection with the fortifications erected on all the chief rivers, in 
order to afford protection against the ravages of the Danes. 

When this latter date is reached it will be found that in the succes- 
sive chronicles, which if not always absolutely contemporary still 
exhibit by their internal evidence that they are copied from authentic 
and genuine sources, the name of Oxford frequently appears : not 
perhaps so frequently as might have been expected considering 
the length of period, nor as we certainly should have wished ; still 
sufficiently so to justify an attempt to weave a history which shall 
represent something of a view of Oxford as it stood in its relation to 
the political events of the kingdom during the century and a half 
which preceded the Norman Conquest. 


The Mythical Origin of Oxford. 

No chronicle properly so called appears to be extant in which the 
Chronicler associates King Mempric with Oxford before that of the 
Historia Regum Angliae, by John Rous 1 or Rosse, a chantry priest of 
Warwick. He wrote his chronicle at the close of the fifteenth century, 
bringing it down to the birth of Prince Arthur, a.d. i486, and in it 
he introduces this story. 

' About this time Samuel the servant of God was judge in Judaea; and 
King Magdan had two sons ; that is to say Mempricius and Malun. 
The younger of the two having been treacherously killed by the elder, 
he left the kingdom to the fratricide. He (Mempricius) was a man 
full of envy and cruelty, and according to that passage in the second 
of Proverbs 2 , ' Anger hath no mercy,' so had he none, but he was 
against every one and every one was against him. This Mempricius 
entered upon his rule as a monarch badly, and he continued his rule 
still worse by killing his nobles. At length, in the twentieth year of 
his reign, he was surrounded by a large pack of very savage wolves, 
and being torn and devoured by them, ended his existence in a 
horrible manner. Nothing good is related of him except that he 
begot an honest son and heir by name Ebrancus, and built one noble 
city which he called from his own name Caer-Memre, but which after- 
wards, in course of time, was called Bellisitum, then Caerbossa, at length 
Ridohen, and last of all Oxonia, or by the Saxons Oxenfordia, from 
a certain egress out of a neighbouring ford ; which name it bears to 
the present day. There arose here in after years an universal and noble 
seat of learning, derived from the renowned University of Grek-laad. 

' It is situated between the rivers Thames and Gharwell which meet 
there. This city, just as Jerusalem, has, to all appearance, been 
changed ; for as Mount Calvary, when Christ was crucified, was just 
outside the walls of the city, and now is contained within the circuit of 
the walls ; so also there is now a large level space outside Oxford con- 
tiguous to the walls of the town which is called Belmount, and which 
means beautiful mount ; and this in a certain way agrees with one of 
the older names of the city before named and recited ; that is to say, 
Bellisitum; whence many are of opinion that the University from 

1 According to Leland John Rous died January 24, 149 1. 

2 No such passage occurs in the second chapter of Proverbs. The nearest is 
chap, xxvii. 4. 



Greklad was transferred to this very Bellus mons or Bellesitum before 
the coming of the Saxons, and while the Britons ruled in the island ; 
and the church of S. Giles, which was dedicated under the name of 
some other saint, was the place for the creation of graduates, as now 
is the Church of S. Mary which is within the walls. Of this noble 
University I shall touch more fully when 1 come to the times of King 
Alfred 1 .' 

No words are needed to point out the absurdities of a history such 
as is here recorded ; whether judged by the circumstances themselves 
when taken in connection with what is known of the early history of 
this country from classical writers, or in respect of the improba- 
bilities which at once suggest themselves of any records having 
been preserved independent of the material which those writers used. 
It may however be useful to attempt to trace the sources of his com- 
pilation as far as possible and expose the true character of his work, 
since his story represents fairly the substance of the myth which has 
found its way into nearly every work relating to the history of Oxford. 

And first it will be well to consider the character of the chronicle 
and how far the chronicler may be trusted. Although the title of his 
book in which the passage about Oxford occurs, is ' a history of the 
Kings of England,' Rous begins with Genesis as his first authority. 
The paragraph at the bottom of the second folio (the first being 
taken up with his preface), will as.,ekarly as any other show how 
ready the author is to take all that comes> and how much or rather 
how little of the critical faculty he exhibits in weighing evidence 
before inserting any story into his chronicle. 

i Of other cities built before the Deluge, Moses is silent ; but the 
famous Bernard of Breydenbach, Dean and Chamberlain of the 
Cathedral Church of Mayence, in his Itinerary to the Holy Land 2 , 
.... writes that before Noah's Deluge there were eight noble cities 
erected as human safeguards against that deluge which was about to 
happen,' &c. &c. 3 

After various dissertations, consisting partly of extracts derived from 
the literature with which he was acquainted, and partly of the expres- 
sions of his own fancies, he comes on the seventeenth folio of his 

1 Joannis Rossi Antiquarii Warwicensis Histp>;ia, Cottonian MS., Vespasian A 
xii. fo. ii a. Hearne's Edition, Oxon, 1745, p.21. For the sake of convenience 
the references to the pages of Hearne's printed edition are added, and the passage 
in the original Latin is given, Appendix A, § 1. 

2 The book referred to is Pcregrinatio Hicrosolymitana ad Scpulcrum Domini, 
et Kathcriniana ad montcm Sinai, &c, Mogunt. i486. Other editions 1490, 1502 ; 
but it was the first edition which Rous must have used when writing his chronicle, 
which he ends with the very year of its publication. 

3 Rous, MS. fo. 2 a, Hearne's ed. p. 3. Appendix A, § 2. 



chronicle to the time of Brutus, and here he takes for his authority the 
Romance of Geoffrey of Monmouth, compiled in the twelfth century. 
This on the one hand he summarises (often inaccurately), on the 
other he often interpolates, to all appearance, absolutely out of his 
own imagination. It will convey more clearly than any words can con- 
vey to the reader an idea of the character of his work in these respects 
to give a passage or two from Geoffrey of Monmouth, for the sake of 
comparison ; and a portion of the passage whence he has derived his 
account of Mempric, which has already been quoted, will serve as well 
as any other for this purpose. Geoffrey of Monmouth had written : — 

' Then Samuel the prophet reigned in Judaea, and Silvius Aeneas 
was still living. And Homer was esteemed a famous orator and poet. 
Maddan, who was now invested with the crown, had by his wife two 
sons, Mempric and Malim, and governed the kingdom peaceably and 
diligently for forty years. When he died there arose a quarrel between 
the said brothers respecting the kingdom, and each one strove to 
possess the whole island. [The details of the treachery are then 
described, and also the iniquities of Mempric.] .... 

' At length [Mempric] in the twentieth year of his reign, in order 
to engage in hunting, retired from his companions into a certain 
valley, where he was surrounded by a number of ravenous wolves and 
was devoured in a horrible manner. Then Saul was reigning in Judaea 
and Eurysthenes in Lacedaemonia V 

It will be seen on comparison how much Rous has expanded the 
original material, for no part of the passage which has been previously 
quoted from Rous is contained in Geoffrey's Romance excepting that 
Ebraucus (which either Rous or the transcriber has turned into 
Ebrancus) is named as a good king as well as the builder of York. It 
is possible too that Rous did not follow Geoffrey of Monmouth at first 
hand, but may have used one of those numerous chronicles, which 
are more or less an expansion of Geoffrey's Romance, according 
to the fancy or the ability of the chronicler. With regard to his 
statement that this Mempric (whoever he was or from whatever source 
Geoffrey of Monmouth originally obtained the name) was the founder 
of Oxford, it would be quite consistent with the general character of 
his work to attribute it to Rous's own invention. He seems, no 
doubt with praiseworthy intentions, to think it useful and expedient 
and in no way detrimental to history, to associate certain names 
with certain cities on etymological or other grounds, following in 

1 Geoffrey of Monmouth, lib. ii. cap. 6. There have been several editions of 
Geoffrey's British History. The most accessible perhaps is Galfredi Monumeten- 
sis Historia Britonum, ed. J. A. Giles, 8vo., London, 1844. The MS. copies are 
exceedingly numerous. See Appendix A, § 3. 



this his guide Geoffrey of Monmouth, though the latter seems as 
often to invent the name of a person 1 to fit the place as to find a place 
to fit some given name of a person. For instance, when Geoffrey 
of Monmouth writes about the victories of Brennius and Belinus, he 
makes out that the latter 'erected a gate of wonderful workman- 
ship which from his name the citizens at this time call Belinesgate V 
It is not necessary to criticise Geoffrey's so-called history, or to 
enquire whether by Brennius he means Brennus, the Gallic general ; 
practically all that is to the purpose is to observe how Rous handles 
the passage. He takes the substance, but finding that Geoffrey has a 
character to whom he has omitted to give a city, he adds ' Brennus 
built Bristol/ and then adds parenthetically, as it were, 'the place of 
Brend 3 .' 

But such foolish guesses passed for science, and unfortunately 
a fiction of one generation passed for history in the next. In one 
sense it is more pardonable perhaps that in the case of his own town 
Warwick, when he found no notice of it in the early times to which 
Geoffrey's Romance relates, and esteeming the antiquity of a place 
to be amongst its chief glories, he should attempt to discover a history 
for it even at the expense of another place ; still, though he may have 
thought it meritorious we can scarcely think it even justifiable that he 
should make the gratuitous assertion that the city of Warwick was 
also called Caerleon, according to our Gildas 4 . It is, perhaps, 
needless to say that Gildas says nothing to warrant the assertion, that 
what is said about Caerleon does apply to Warwick, but the statement 
being once made, it has been of course followed by later writers and 
relied upon as evidence even by the learned and laborious Dugdale 5 . 

It must be remembered also that Rous did not stand alone ; he 
is only an example of others, before and afterwards, whose mistaken 
zeal has so much corrupted the early history of this country, that the 
facts have been sometimes lost sight of beneath the fables. 

1 For instance, following in the wake of the story which makes Brutus to found 
Britain, he invents (Book II. § i) Kamber to fit Cambria or Wales, and Albanactus 
to fit Albania, or Scotland, and Locrinus to fit Loegria. In the next section he 
makes Humber to be a king of the Huns for the sake of drowning him in the river 
which bears his name. In the next we have mentioned Corineus, who had already 
received Cornubia, ' which was either derived from the Latin Cornu, or from his 
name.' In the next we have Estrildis, whose daughter was called Sabren, and 
being thrown into the river Severn, it was thence called Sabrina. 

2 Geoffrey of Monmouth, lib. iii. § io. Appendix A, § 4. 

3 Rous MS., fol. 13 a, ed. p. 25. Appendix A, § 5. 
1 Rous MS. fol. 14 a, ed. p. 26. Appendix A, § 6. 

5 Dugdale's History of IVarwichhire, fol., London, 1 656, p. 260. 


Although the examples already given from Rous might be deemed 
sufficient to show the worthless character of the chronicle on which we 
have to rely as being the first to introduce us to the founder of 
Oxford, it will be convenient to give one more, since it plays an 
important part in the controversy which was carried on in connection 
with the respective antiquity of the two Universities of Oxford and 
Cambridge in Queen Elizabeth's reign, and which for certain reasons 
will be referred to somewhat fully later on. 

Geoffrey of Monmouth 1 has introduced a story of how a king, 
Gurguntius Brabtruc 2 by name, who succeeded Brennius, conquered 
Dacia, and on his return home through the Orkney islands, found that 
thirty ships filled with men and women which had sailed from Spain 
had arrived. Their leader Partholoim informed him that they had been 
driven out from their country and that they were Barclenses. He gave 
them Ireland, which was then uninhabited, and where they flourished 
and which they have occupied, as Geoffrey says, ' to the present day/ 

Rous takes the substance of the passage, and then, after the state- 
ment that Gurguntius gave Ireland to their chief Partholoim (which he 
writes Partholaym), he tacks on the story of the foundation of Cambridge 
in the following words : — 

( And he (i.e. King Gurguncius) retained with him their chief's 
brother, by name Ganteber, the rightful heir to Cantebra, one of the 
Spanish cities ; and he gave him together with his daughter in marriage 
a tract of land in East Anglia, where as those of Cambridge write, he 
built a city upon the river " Cant " about Anno Mundi 4317; and because 
he was most erudite he gathered around him learned men and began that 
place of study for himself which in our days flourishes with high honour, 
and this city from his son Grantinus who made there a bridge was 
called Caergrant or, according to others Grauntcestre, and is now 
called Cambryge, and is the capital of the surrounding country V 

Here we find introduced into his chronicle what may be called the 
Cambridge myth, which was relied upon by the disputant on one side 
in the controversy above referred to. It will be found that the Oxford 
and Cambridge myths appear to run in many respects pari passu. The 
evidence, however, points to Rous being more responsible for assigning 

1 Geoffrey of Monmouth, lib. iii. § 12. 

2 Here is a remarkable instance of Geoffrey's invention of names. It is impos- 
sible to look through his long lists (and he is fond of making such, e. g. he gives 
the names of the twenty sons and of the thirty daughters of King Ebrancus) 
without seeing that they are inventions mainly produced by perversions of known 
names. From whatever source he obtained the Gurguntius — the Brabtruc is simply 
Curtbarb or Shortbeard, some nickname spelt backwards. 

3 Rous MS., fol. 13 b, ed. p. 25. See Appendix A, § 7. 



Oxford to Mempric than for assigning Cambridge to the mythical 
Cantaber, which looks like a local production, Rous being only the 
transcriber, since he particularly notes ' ut scribunt Cantabrigienses.' 

As to Oxford, however, the founding of the City by Mempric does 
not involve the founding of the University at this date. The latter is 
said to have been transplanted hither from ' Greklade ' in after years, 
and this part of the story which Rous has woven into his own occurs 
perhaps in the earliest form in a treatise commonly called the Oxford 
Historioia. It will be best first of all to give this, or at least so much of 
it as affects the present question, and then afterwards to say some- 
thing about its age. It runs : — 

' The Transference of the University from place to place. 

' By the concurrent testimony of several chronicles, many places 
throughout different parts of the world are said at various times to 
have gained repute in the promotion of the study of the various 
sciences. But the University of Oxford is found to be earlier as to 
foundation, more general in the number of sciences taught, firmer in the 
profession of Catholic Truth, and more distinguished for the multitude 
of its privileges, than all other Studia now existing amongst the Latins. 
Very ancient British Histories imply the priority of its foundation, for 
it is related that amongst the warlike Trojans, when with their leader 
Brutus they triumphantly seized upon the island, then called Albion, 
next Britain, and lastly England, certain Philosophers came and chose 
a suitable place of habitation in this island, on which the Philosophers 
who had been Greek bestowed a name which they have left behind 
them as a record of their presence, and which exists to the present day, 
that is to say Grekelade. 

' Not far from this it is known that the town of Oxford is situated, 
which because of the pleasantness of the rivers, meadows and woods 
adjoining it, antiquity formerly named Bellesitum ; afterwards the 
Saxon people named it Oxford from a certain neighbouring ford so 
called, and selected it as a place of study V 

This Historioia is found at the commencement of three different books 
preserved in the Archives of the University. The earliest is the 
' Chancellor or Commissary's Book.' This appears to have been 
written in the time of Edward III, and to all appearance towards the 

1 From the Chancellor's Book, etc., in Oxford, compared with a copy in the 
Cottonian Library. Printed in Munimenta Acadcmica, ed. Anstey, Rolls Series, 
vol. ii. p. 367. The paragraph ends with a rhetorical flourish scarcely translateable, 
but the meaning of which is perhaps as follows : — 

The excessive profusion indeed of the sciences there taught is the more clearly 
seen, in proportion as in other Universities {Studio) attention is so exclusively 
given to one or more sciences that either several, or at least some one seems to be 
omitted ; at Oxford, on the other hand, each one is so taught that a science which 
is there rejected may be regarded as undeserving of the name. Appendix A, § 8. 


1 1 

end rather than the beginning of the reign. A charter of the 49th 
of Edward III [1375] seems to belong to the same writing as the 
original book, but additions of various kinds bring the contents down 
to a charter of Inspeximus of Queen Elizabeth, dated 1575, about which 
time the book was bound up in the condition in which it is now left. 

The two other books preserved in the Oxford Archives are of a still 
later date, being copies of the former, and thef throw therefore no 
light upon the matter. The Cottonian Manuscript — which is in a 
good clear hand, and to all appearance the same throughout — is a 
copy made from the Oxford book, probably for the private use of the 
Chancellor, and soon after 141 1, since that appears to be the date, 
so far as has been observed, of the most recent documents included. 
The title given is ' Statuta Privilegia et Consuetudines Universitatis 
Oxoniensis, und cum Literis et Chartis Regiis! Bound up with it at 
the end is a finely written copy of the Postils of Wycliffe, but there 
appears no reason why the two should have been originally associated 
together, nor are they written by the same hand. 

This Historiola probably contains the earliest form of that portion 
of the myth which relates to the Greek Philosophers accompanying 
Brutus and the Trojans, and fixing on Greek-lade as the place of 
residence, though no doubt previous to this the sound of the name 
Cricklade had suggested a derivation which commended itself to the 
minds of greek scholars, and so readily laid the foundation of this 
ridiculous myth. 

It may seem hardly worth bestowing any serious consideration on so 

palpable an etymological fancy, but the constant repetition has perhaps 

given it a position which involves a word or two as to the name of the 

place. The name occurs in the A.S. Chronicles under the years 905 

and 1 01 6, in connection with Danish incursions. It is variously spelt 

according to the various editions Crecca-gelade, Crac-gelade, Creace-gelade, 

Creocc-gelade, Cre-gelade, Cric-gelade, Craeci-lade, Creca-lade. It also 

occurs in a copy of a will, preserved in the Hyde Abbey Chronicle, 

made by a certain Ethelmar, an ealdorman, who bequeathed property 

I to the New Minster or Winchester, and to other places. He gives, 

amongst many other bequests, two pounds to Malmesbury, one pound 

to Bath, and one pound to Crac-gelade. The writer has given a Latin 

I translation of the will, and a version in the English of the period at 

I which he wrote : in the former it is 'unam libram ecclesiae 1 de Crike- 

1 This word ' ecclesia ' is an interpolation, as the name appears in common with 
several others to which the word ' monasterium ' is applied. There was probably 
some college of priests attached to the church here, but it had nothing to do with 
the Priory, which was founded about n 00. 



lade,' in the latter ' on pund in to Crykelade.' The will is not dated, 
but the probabilities are it is that of an ealdorman whose death we 
find recorded in the Chronicles under the year 982 \ 

The next references we have to the spelling are in the Domesday 
Survey, where it is spelt Criche-lade throughout several examples. It 
would appear that the Burgesses of Cricklade for some reason paid 
rent to many different manors. But the prefix to the gelade or lade 
(i. e. a way or channel as regards water, a lode as regards mineral 
veins) is simply creeca 2 , a creek, i. e. a bay, and probably used as a 
wharf for boats loading and unloading. It was evidently a town 
of some importance during the tenth century, but no record whatever, 
directly or indirectly, refers to any circumstances which would have 
suggested the story otherwise than the name. 

It is, however, true that the word Greek is sometimes written in 
Saxon creac, and Creca-rice appears to be used for the kingdom of the 
Greeks, yet the origin of the conceit has been, no doubt, from the 
form of Cricke, i. e. Crick-lade, which in rapid pronunciation sounds 
like ' Greek.' That was probably the source of the whole story about 
the Philosophers coming to Greeklade at some unknown period before 
Britain was visited by Julius Caesar. There can be little reason to 
doubt that the story in the Historiola formed the groundwork of Rous' 
addition to Geoffrey of Monmouth's fiction about Gurguntius, since 
Rous, as is shown by incidental remarks in his 1 History/ was once a 
scholar in Oxford 3 , and was curious in such matters. 

1 The words of the Liber de Hyda, Rolls Series, London, 1866, p. 254, are: 
'This same year died two ealdormen, Aethelmar in Hampshire and Eadwin in 
Sussex, and Aethelmar's body lies at Winchester, for the will contains these words, 
" I give first of all to God for my soul, to the new monastery at Winchester where 
it is my will that I shall rest, a hundred mancuses of gold." The will from other 
evidence must be of about the date, and it is not probable that there were two 
ealdormen of Wessex of about the same time of the name of Aethelmar and both 
buried at Winchester.' 

2 So Creccanforda — now Crayford in Kent. 

3 Rous, in his Historia, Hearne's ed. p. 5, refers to John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, 
who, he says, was • a co-scholar ' of his in the University of Oxford. Very frequently 
elsewhere throughout his Historia he refers to the time when he was at Oxford, 
sometimes by implication, sometimes directly, e.g. 'and ordered it to be called the 
" Little Hall of the University," and thus it was so called in my days (p. 77). 
' As I saw, in a certain chronicle at Oseney near Oxford, while I was a scholar 
there' (p. 100). 'And I well recollect while I was at the schools at Oxford, King 
Henry VI, when he came to these parts, was wont to take up his abode with the 
said Friars' (p. 192). 'And at the time when I was there at the schools a part of 
the marble cross fell' (p. 202). 'This ordinance I saw when I was a boy in 
Oxford, but as I was then only of youthful age {minoris aetatis), I have not 
retained so long in my memory what I saw ' (p. 208). 


But we have not accounted for all his story : there is still the fiction of 
the University, like Jerusalem, having been once outside the walls on 
the north of Oxford, and for the probable source of this we must look 
to another MS. earlier than Rous's time, and possibly even anterior to 
the addition of the Historiola to the Oxford Registers. It is from 
the Hyde Abbey Chronicle, and runs as follows \ T - 

' Which University of Oxford was once without the North gate of 
that city, and the church of St. Giles was the chief church of all the 
clerks (clerus) outside the said gate. But now it is within the walls 
of the city of Oxford and the church of St. Mary is the principal church 
of the clerks within the said city. And this transference took place in 
the 28th year of the reign of King Edward the third after the conquest, 
in the year of our Lord, one thousand three hundred and fifty-four. 
And the reason of this transference was as follows 1 : ' 

The paragraph above quoted follows on immediately after one attri- 
buting the beginning of the University of Oxford to a.d. 886, i. e. the 
early years of the reign of King Alfred, and has therefore nothing to 
do with the story of the Greek philosophers migrating from Greek- 
lade. Rous, however, has ignored this, and ingeniously combined 
the two, and herein we seem to obtain a glimpse at the manner of the 
growth of the myth into the more complete form in which we find 
it in his pages. 

As to the story, however, which the Hyde Abbey Chronicler has 
given us, it is of no value in respect to the early history of Oxford, 
since it is too slight to enable us to judge of the circumstances 
which prompted the insertion of the paragraph ; and the reason 
given by the writer for the transference of the University, namely, that 
it was in consequence of the fight between the clerks and the 
citizens, which took place on S. Scholastica's day, a.d. 1354, simply 
shows that he has heard some wonderful story, and confused it : we 
have a very full account of this riot (accompanied as it was by much 
bloodshed), based on evidence of a most trustworthy kind, namely 
depositions by the several authorities ; and there is nothing in the 
account to justify the story of any transference of the University from 
the north to within the city gates. 

The particular reference also to the twenty-eighth year of King 
Edward III after the Conquest is proof that it belongs to a date late 
in the century, for the style is scarcely that which the chronicler would 
have adopted of a reigning monarch ; and further, the statement, so 
contrary to well-known fact, that the University did not find its way 

1 Liber Monasterii de Hyda. Rolls Series, London, 1866, p. 41 . App. A, § 9. 


within the walls of Oxford till the year 1354, and that then S. Mary's 
church, as is implied, for the first time became the University 
church, points to some date for the story when the event referred to 
was beyond the remembrance of living persons 1 . 

In analysing, however, the mythical story as imported into the 
dated chronicle of Rous, and in attempting to discover the source of 
the several portions, we meet with a curious form of the Cricklade 
conceit which must be quoted. It is just possible that it is of a date as 
early as, if not earlier than, the reference to the place in the Historiola, 
added to the Chancellor's books of the University, and already given. 

The passage occurs in a chronicle to which several dates, as well 
as titles, have been assigned, but it is usually known as the Chronicon 
Jornallense (or Jorvallense), i. e. of Jervaulx, a monastery in Yorkshire, 
founded in 11 56; and the authorship is usually attributed to John 
Brompton, one of the abbots. It runs as follows : — 

' Whence about the same time [i. e. temp. King Alfred] according to 
the opinion of some, and the common saying of both ancient and 
modern writers, it is thought that a University [studium] was founded 
at Grant-chester near Cambridge by the venerable Bede : which can 
very readily be believed, both for and from the fact that afterwards in 
the time of Charles the Great, King of France, one reads that a seat 
of learning was transferred from Rome to Paris by one Alquin, an 
Englishman, a disciple of Bede, exercised in all learning as will hereafter 
be told more fully. 

'Also it has been already recorded that Erpwald, King of East 
Anglia [a.d. 624-29] the son of King Redwald, before he had been 
made king, and while he was an exile in Gaul, instituted, with the help 
of S. Felix the Bishop, schools for boys, such as he had seen there. 
But according to some, still before these times there were two seats 
of learning in England, one for Latin and the other for Greek, of which 
the Greeks placed one at Greglade, which is now called Kirkelade, and 
there for a time taught the Greek tongue. The other, however, the 
Latins placed at Latinelade which is now called Lechelade near Oxford, 
teaching there the Latin tongue V 

1 It may be added that in one place the author quotes the Polychronicon of 
Ralph Higden, which was not completed till 1357; and this again tends to 
throw the MS. towards the end of the century. The handwriting, too, is of late 
character, so much so that the Chronicle might even have been written early in 
the following century. 

2 Chronicon [Joannis Brompton] abbatis Jornalcnsis sub anno DCCCLXXXVI. 
Cottonian MS. Tiberius, c. xiii. folio 36 b. Printed in Twisden's Decern Scriptores, 
London, 1652, col. 814. The earliest MS. of this Chronicle extant, i. e. that in the 
Cottonian collection, is written to all appearance in a rather late fifteenth century 
hand, and being one of those which suffered in the fire, no traces are left of any 
reference to the history of the MS., by whom copied, or any date by which 
to ascribe it to any particular monastery. It is probably not a contemporary 


J 5 

It is a misfortune that more has not been discovered to fix the 
exact date of this chronicle, as the passage contains not only the 
Greeklade conceit, but its etymological companion 1 . At the same 
time it includes an early mention (if not the earliest found in any 
chronicle) of the story of Bishop Felix, which belongs to the Cambridge 
myth, and which may be said to occupy the same place in the 
Cambridge series as the invention concerning King Alfred occupies in 
the Oxford series. 

It is however generally considered to be a chronicle compiled in the 
time of Edward III 2 . It contains matter which certainly shows it to 
have been written not earlier than that reign, but it does not appear to 
be referred to by other chroniclers till we reach Leland in Henry VIII's 
reign. But if it is correctly ascribed to Abbot Brompton, we are met 
by this difficulty. In the list of the abbots of Jervaulx, as compiled 
by Dugdale, two John Bromptons are given, viz. one who was 
appointed in a.d. 1193, the other elected in 1436 3 . The first of these 
dates is out of the question 4 ; and though nothing has been observed 
which directly militates against the chronicle being of the time of the 
second abbot of the name of Brompton, on the whole it is probably 
earlier, and, as Twisden suggests, it is so called not necessarily from 
Abbot Brompton having written it, but from his name having ap- 
peared in connection with it. As the Greeklade conceit was probably 
the earlier of the two, and gave rise to that of Latinlade, it would have 
been interesting to have traced how far back the invention could be 

MS., i. e. one written under the author's supervision. The reason why it is 
ascribed to John Brompton is not clear. It is so by Twisden, and the Cottonian 
MS. is avowedly the MS. which Twisden used in transcribing the work for his 
Decern Scriptores, yet on the face of the MS. itself there is no reason, so far as 
has been observed, for ascribing it to that author. Appendix A, § 10. 

1 There is no instance, so far as has been observed, of this name occurring 
before the Domesday Survey, and in this it is spelt Lecelade. But as it is situated 
close by the spot where the river Leach joins the Thames, there can be no difficulty 
as to the name, nor any reason to suppose that there was any form which more 
nearly approached the word ' Latin ' than that in which it appears now. The 
reason of the river being called the Leach (on which two villages of the name 
of Leach are situated) is open to discussion ; but the word Lech, it may be 
observed, occurs in the names of other places, e. g. Leckhampton near Cheltenham, 
and Leckhampstead in Berkshire. 

2 It is so by Twisden in his prefatory remarks, and others have followed him. 

3 Dugdale, new ed., vol. v. p. 567. The only authority he gives for 1193 is 
! Browne Willis. For 1436 the reference is to a series of extracts from the York 

Registers made in 1702, and in the Harleian Collection. (MS. 6972, fol. 29.) 

4 Only one writer has been observed to attribute it to this date, and that is the 
author of the Life of S. Frideswide in the Acta Sanctorum, October, vol. viii. 
P- 534- 


carried. No other writer as early as the fourteenth century seems to 
have heard of it. 

The above passages, it is believed, represent the only authorities for 
the myth of the Mempric origin of the City or of the Greek origin of the 
University before the close of the fifteenth century, when, as has been 
seen, they have been gathered up by Rous into one connected story. 

In the controversy, of which an account will be given, it is asserted j 
that Leland in the sixteenth century supported the story ; but the refer- | 
ence is very unsatisfactory, for the reason that in all his books which 
have been printed there is nothing of the kind, although there would 
have been several opportunities for him to introduce the story if he had 
believed it ; but it would appear from passages in his Collectanea and in J 
the Notes to his Cygnea Cantio that he thought Alfred to have been the 
founder of the University of Oxford. The passage, however, the con- 
troversialists adduce, is supposed to be a MS. marginal note which I 
Leland made on a copy of Polydore Virgil to this effect : — 

1 He affirms that he had read in some writers of British History of i] 
great antiquity, that in the times of the Britons both Greek and Latin 
Schools flourished " ad vadum Isidis 1 ," and that they were destroyed 1 
during the wars and were not restored till the time of Alfred V 

But Bryan Twyne is supposed to quote the same passage to prove j 
that Leland held this view, for he says it is from a marginal note to 
Polydore Virgil ; yet on comparison his transcript of the note turns 
out to be very different, and runs thus : — 

' There were in the times of the Britons, Greek and Latin schools j 
" ad ripas Isidis " of which the names in a corrupt way remain to this 1 
day ; which the Preceptors of the place attracted by the pleasantness U 
of the place transferred it to Galeva, where the pious Alfred restored J 
learning to its pristine seat V 

1 This is a term for Oxford which Leland frequently uses, meaning thereby j 
' Ouse-ford.' 

2 Assertio Antiquitatis Oxon., Hearne's ed. p. 279. 

3 Bryan Twyne, Antiq. Oxon. Apologia, Oxoniae, 1608, p. 114. By Caleva here ' 
is meant Oxford ; but Leland, in his Commentary on the Cygnea Cantio, says very 
distinctly, ' Mea plane opinio semper sit, atque adeo nunc est, Calevam earn fuisse 
urbem quae nunc Walengaforde dicitur.' This seems rather to conflict with the 1 
passage being Leland's ; but Bryan Twyne gives another passage which he states j I 
Leland wrote : ' The ancient Britons had two schools flourishing in rhetoric and in f 
all kinds of learning, of which one was called Greeke-lade from teaching the | 
Greek language, and the other Latinelade from teaching the Latin, but now 
corruptly their names are Crekelade and Lechelade.' The only reference to the 
passage is, ' Haec Lelandus, apud Baleum, in Vita Regis Alfredi Magni.' It is 
thought well to give all these passages in the Appendix, as quoted, though their 1 
source has not been traced. Appendix A, § 11. 



As neither of the writers say where the copy of Polydore Virgil 
was preserved, it is impossible to decide which is the right extract, or 
whether it fulfils the purpose of its quotation. Leland may well have 
seen Brompton's Chronicle, but he would not speak of it as a British 
author * mirae anh'gm'fatis.' 

There are, however, besides these, other etymological myths of less 
importance, but of which it is more difficult to discover the exact 
authority or the way in which they came into existence. 

The Bellesitum is one of these ; it is obviously a latinization of the 
French name of Beaumont — a name probably given to the site at the 
time Henry I built his palace there. The numerous Beaumonts in 
France attest the French origin of such a name, while there are several 
to be noted in England ; but whether he called it after any Beaumont 
where he had resided when in Normandy, or from the pleasant appearance 
of the rising ground, cannot, of course, be decided. When the country 
was open, and before the houses were built, the slope towards St. Giles' 
would have had a * pleasant aspect ' from the western side of Oxford, 
and also from the eastern along the banks of the Cherwell. The name 
of Bellesitum 1 , however, so far as has been observed, was not applied 
to Oxford by any writer till Rous, and the idea no doubt implied 
would be that if Oxford had a Latin name, that name would have been 
given by the Romans, and that would make it a Roman city. At the 
same time, Rous might have heard the King's palace spoken of as 
' Bellesitum ' by the Carmelite friars, to whom Edward II had granted 
the royal palace and its appurtenances. 

The Caer-bossa and Ridohen (or Rhyd-ychen) myth is clearly 
to be traced to Geoffrey's Romance, who has applied one of his 
fanciful names to Oxford, though Rous has the credit, such as it is, 
of first introducing the fancy into a chronicle. Geoffrey's story is 
supposed to take place in the sixth century, that is, if any date can be 
ascribed at all to King Arthur, and he narrates that after this King 
had refused to pay tribute to the Romans, he assembled an army from 
Iceland, Ireland, Gothland, the Orkneys, and Denmark ; then had gone 
over to Gaul — to the mouth of the river Barba (wherever that is), 
and then, to quote Geoffrey : — 

4 When all the forces, which Arthur anticipated, had assembled, he 
went thence to Augustodunum, where he thought that their General 

1 It is, however, a common form of latizination : e. g. of the various abbeys in 
France bearing the name of Beaupre, the" name is written in the charters Belli- 
pratum. So our Beaumaris is written in mediaeval Latin Bello-mariscus, and Beaulieu 
in Hampshire De Belloloco, just as Rewley, established beneath the slopes of 
Beaumont in the thirteenth century, is in the charters called De Regali-loco. 



was, and when he came to the river Alba, it was told to him that he 
had pitched his camp not very far off, and that he was advancing with 
so large an army that Arthur (as they said) would not be able to resist. 
But he was not on this account so frightened as to retire from his 
undertaking, but pitched his camp upon the bank of the river, so 
that he might be able readily to bring up his forces, and if there should 
be necessity secure a retreat for them. He, however, sent forward to 
Lucius Tiberius, two consuls, Boso Devadoboum and Guerin of Ghartres 
{Guerinum Carnotensem), and Walganius, his own grandson, to propose 
to him either to leave the territory of Gaul, or the next day to come 
and try which of them had the most right in Gaul.' 

A little later on, Guerin of Chartres exhibits a signal act of 
bravery : — 

' Boso Devadoboum therefore was envious that the man of Chartres 
gave proof of so much valour, and wheeling about his horse struck 
his lance into the throat of the first man he met, and obliged him — 
mortally wounded as he was — to get off his horse, so that he could 
not pursue him V 

This, then, is the chief mention of Boso Devadoboum, and it is not 
necessary to recount more of his exploits in the battle-field. All that 
is to be borne in mind is, that the fanciful name occurs in a fanciful 
description of a fight in Gaul against a Roman General (or Emperor), 
Lucius Tiberius — all the circumstances of which are absolutely opposed 
to known history. This Tiberius had called to his assistance the 
kings of the Grecians, of the Africans, of the Parthians, of the Medes, 
of the Lybians, &c. — in fact, all the eastern countries which Geoffrey 
of Monmouth could think of, to every one of whom he assigns 
kings with strange names, not one of which is known to history in 
connection with the country, as well as several from the senatorial 
order in Rome, to which Geoffrey has added a few Roman names 
selected out of his Eutropius. 

The name of Devadoboum, applied to Boso, is admitted to be a 
translation of the words ' of Oxford,' for it occurs in a previous list of 
magnates summoned by King Arthur to a solemn assembly at his 
court during the feast of Easter, on which occasion he was to be 
crowned. After mentioning that there were two hundred philosophers 
present, as well as many ambassadors, three archbishops, i. e. of 
London, York, and of ' Urbs Legionum 2 ,' a list of consuls of different 
towns are given, amongst whom is 1 Boso Ridocensis, i. e. Oxenefordiae! 
Geoffrey thus shows his knowledge of Welsh, and imagining that 

1 Geoffrey of Monmouth, lib. x. cap. 4. Appendix A, § 12. 

2 Geoffrey of Monmouth, lib. ix. cap. 12. These are the three cities obtained 
from the list of Bishops at the Council of Aries, a.d. 314. 



a place belonging to Arthur ought to have a Welsh name, and fancying 
that the origin of the name of Oxford 1 was the ford of Oxon 2 , inserts, 
as has been seen, both forms, Ridocen and Oxnefordia. 

Again, later on, when Lucius Tiberius is made to go to a certain 
Lengria, Geoffrey again refers to Boso £ de Ridichen quae lingua 
Saxonum Oxineford nuncupatur 3 ' ; and when the story is taken up by 
the sixteenth and seventeenth century writers, they imply that there is 
a close connection between the name Boso^ and the Ox in Oxford. 
This may be so, but then it only belongs to Geoffrey's ingenuity, and 
scarcely authorises the name of Caer-Bossa, which already, before 
they wrote, Rous had given to it. 

Elsewhere Geoffrey refers directly to Oxford, i.e. in the well-known 
prophecy of Merlin, and this has been seized upon also as evidence of 
the antiquity of the place, not only on the grounds of the early date of 
Merlin, but on the ground of his veracity. In this prophecy we find 
that after the wild boar of Totness shall oppress the people 

' Gloucester shall send forth a lion which in several battles shall 
interfere with his cruelty ... A bull shall enter the lists, and shall 
strike the lion with his right paw. He shall drive him through the 
bye-ways (diversoria) of the kingdom, but he shall break his horns 
against the walls of Oxford 5 .' 

Geoffrey's Romance is copied by several later writers 6 , who in their 
turn are referred to as authorities for the British name of Oxford, and 
therefore as proving it to exist in British times. But it is certain no 
trace of these fanciful names can be carried back further than the fiction 
of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Other myths incidentally have grown up by 

1 See, on the origin of the Name of Oxford, Appendix B. 

2 In the same, list, fancying that the old Glevum (or Gleaw) had to do with 
Claudius, he manufactures Claudiocestra. 

3 Geoffrey of Monmouth, lib. x. cap. 6. Most MSS., as well as that of writers 
who copy Geoffrey, have Richiden, but no doubt erroneously. 

* A similar name however occurs, possibly known to Geoffrey, viz. Bosa, a 
Bishop of the Deiri in 678, found in Beda and the Chronicle. Possibly also Bosa 
of Selsea, whence Bosan-ham (Bosham, Sussex). 

5 Geoffrey of Monmouth, lib. vii. cap, 4. Diversoria, according to Ducange, 
would mean ' inns.' The Oxonia is in some MSS. Exonia. Appendix A 1. 

6 One of those frequently quoted in the controversy is the Eulogium Histo- 
riarwn, a chronicle extending to 1366. There is, however, a curious reference to 
Merlin's prophecy by a writer who flourished somewhat less than a century after 
Geoffrey of Monmouth, namely Alexander Neckam, Abbot of Cirencester, who 
died in 1 21 7. In his philosophical treatise, Zte naturd rerum, he has the fol- 
lowing : ' Civilis juris peritiam vendicat sibi Italia : sed coelestis scriptura et 
liberales artes civitatem Parisiensem caeteris praeferendam esse conveniunt. Juxta 
vaticinium etiam Merlini, viguit ad Vada Bourn sapientia tempore suo, ad Hiber- 
niae partes transitura.' Neckam, De naturd rerum, Rolls Series, London, 863, 
p. 311. 

C 2 



later writers, notably by Hearne, but what has been narrated completes 
the evidence of the earlier authorities on which the two champions in 
the time of Elizabeth had to rely. 

We now come to the controversy respecting the rival claims of 
either of the two Universities to be the most ancient, which arose 
during Queen Elizabeth's reign. The two disputants were respectively 
John Caius 1 of Cambridge, and Thomas Caius 2 of Oxford, at least, 
such were their Latinized names, their real names being Key or Keys. 
It is not probable that there was any family relationship between them, 
and it seems to be purely an accident that these disputants, representing 
respectively the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, should bear 
the same name. But beyond the similarity of the authors' names, the 
fact that the books were published anonymously and very irregularly 
tends to confuse the reader, in attempting to follow them, so that it 
may perhaps be as well to give first of all some account of the 
bibliography of the controversy. 

The first book which appeared in print had the following title : — 

' De antiquitate Cantabrigiensis academiae libri duo. In quorum secundo 
de Oxoniensis quo que Gymnasii antiquitate disseritur et Cantabrigiense longe 
eo antiquius esse definitur. Londinense authore. Adjunximus Assertionem 
antiquitatis Oxoniensis academiae ab Oxoniensi quodam, annis jam elapsis 
duobus, ad Reginam conscriptam, in qua docere conatur Oxoniense Gymna- 
sium Cantabrigiensi antiquius esse. Ut ex collatione facile intelligas utra 
sit antiquior. Excusum Londini Anno Domini 1568, Mense august 0. Per 
Henricum BynnemanJ 

1 John Caius (spelt in one instance in the University books Kees, in another 
Keys, and in a third written Cains') was born October 6th, 15 10, and on January 
24th, 1559, being then Doctor of Medicine, was elected Warden of Gonville and 
Caius College, which office he held thirteen years five months and fourteen days. 
' On the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of July, a.d. 1573, he had his tomb constructed beneath 
the Tabernacle of the Annunciation of the Virgin on the north side of the high altar 
in his college chapel, awaiting the will of God, and being oppressed by age and 
sickness.' ' On his monument is the following inscription, " Vivit post fnnera 
Virtus. Fui Caius. ALtatis sua 63. Obiit 29 Julii Anno Dom. 1573." ' From 
notes supplied to Hearne by the Rev. Thomas Baker in 1729, who took them from 
Archbishop Parker's notes. Caii Vindiciae, Hearne's ed., p. lvi. 

2 Thomas Caius. The following notes are taken in substance from Wood's 
Athenae Oxon. : Thomas Key or Cay was of a Yorkshire family, but his near rela- 
tions appear to have been living in Lincolnshire. He may have been originally of 
University College, but there is no direct evidence. In 1525 he was elected Fellow 
of All Souls College. In 1534 he was appointed Registrar of the University. It 
appears, however, that he was charged with neglect of his duties and deprived of his 
office in 1552 (though possibly his religion had something to do with the charge, 
since on the accession of Elizabeth he was made Prebendary of Sarum). In 1563 
he was made Rector of Tredington, Worcestershire. He died about the middle of 
May, 1572, in his lodgings in University College (?). He was buried under the 
wall of the north aisle of St. Peter's-in-the-East, but without an epitaph. 


The object which John Cams had in signing himself Londinensis 
was to appear in the character of a fair and unbiassed judge in the 
dispute, and so to conceal, as far as the title-page would enable him 
to do, his partisanship in favour of Cambridge. With every reason 
to believe that he supplied the arguments, which, as will be seen, 
formed the basis of the controversy, knowing too that he was head of 
one of the Cambridge colleges, it is difficult to reconcile with literary 
honesty the paragraph in which he speaks of his being uninfluenced 
by any favouritism. In it he speaks of himself as a London man, 
and so located midway between the two, and disposed with equal 
favour towards each, having been absent from the Universities for 
thirty years, and that he trusts by his intervention as a common friend 
to restore an amicable peace between the two disputants 1 . 

This edition, as to size, was printed in i6mo, and at the end he 
added the short treatise of the Oxford writer. The manuscript of 
this he appears to have come by not very fairly, and he evidently 
printed it without the writer's sanction, and probably without even his 
knowledge. He gives the title to this part of the work more fully 
than expressed in the general title to the whole : — 

' Assertio Antiquitat'ts Oxoniensis Academiae, incerto authore ejusdem 
Gymnasii. Ad illustriss. Reginam Anno 1566. Cum fragment 0 Oxoni- 
ensis Historiolae. Additis castigationibus authoris marginalibus ad aste- 
riscum positis. Inter quas libri titulus est, qui ante castigationem (quam 
editionem secundam diciamus) nullus erat. Omnia prout ab ipsis authoris 
exemplar ibus accepimus, bona Jide commissa formulis 2 . 

' Excusum Londini Anno Domini 1568, Mense Augusto. Per Henricum 

Some six years later, after the author's death, which took place in 
1573, another edition was printed by Day, who was the printer patron- 

1 Joannis Caii De Antiquitate Cantab., Hearne's ed., p. 5. The paragraph was 
allowed to stand in the 4to edition which his friends reprinted in 1574; to the 
title-page of which, however, as will be noticed, they affixed his own name. It 
should be noted that it is thought to be more convenient to give the references 
to the pages of Hearne's reprint in 1730 than to either of the two original editions 
of the treatise, as they are somewhat scarce, while Hearne's is tolerably accessible. 
Besides, for the third treatise, the Animadversiones, we are dependent wholly for 
a printed copy upon Hearne's edition. Appendix A, § 13. 

2 The title thus affixed by his adversary would give the impression that the 
book had been already published, and that the marginal notes were of great 
importance. They appear, however, to be almost entirely necessary corrections of 
a transcript. Thomas Caius states in the beginning of his Animadversiones that 
he wrote off the Assertio within a week after he first heard of the Cambridge 
oration before Queen Elizabeth, and that the MS. was not prepared for the press. 
The conduct of John Caius in printing it under these circumstances seems to be 
as unjustifiable as his pretence of being an unbiassed judge. 


ised by Archbishop Parker, and who at the same time held a licence 
from the crown for printing Latin books. This reprint was in small 
4to, and was issued at the Archbishop's instigation, and partly at the 
Archbishop's expense \ 

To this edition his friends added his real name. The title of this 
second edition was similar to that of the first, except that after the 
words Libri duo, in the first line, was added : — 

' Aucti ab ipso Authore plurimum.' 
And in the third line, instead of Londinensi authore : — 
1 Joanne Caio Anglo Authore* 
In the next line, 'jam clapsis duobus ' is changed to 'jam elapsis ali- 
quot,' and the name Elizabeth is inserted after Reginam, while the 
imprint stands as follows : — 

'Londini in aedibus Johannis Daii, An. Dom. 1574. Cum Gratia 
et Privilegio Regiae Maiestatis.' 
The Assertio Antiquitatis Oxoniensis was again reprinted verbatim 
as before with a separate title-page, but after the words Anno 1566 
there was added : — 

' Jam nuper ad <verbum cum priore edita. Cum jragmentof Qr^c. [as 

'Londini in aedibus Joannis Daii, An. Dom. 1574. Cum Gratia et 1 
Pr'vvelegio Regiae Maiestatis. 1 

This new edition was printed, as regards the first part, from a 
revised copy which the author left behind him, and though here 
and there several passages were added for the sake of greater 
effect, and the phraseology here and there improved, no new facts 
seem to have been adduced, or new arguments brought forward, of 
any importance 2 . 

At the end of the quarto edition a third treatise was printed, found 
amongst the papers of John Caius, and which was supposed to be 
a kind of summing up of the whole question, and written from a 1 

1 The following extract from a letter should be added ' as authority ' for this j , 
statement : ' His book in 4to., as you observe, was a posthumous work, but it was i 
left in very safe and careful hands, viz. Archbishop Parker's, who bore part of the 
expense of the edition, as I find in some MSS. notes of his son, Sir John Parker.' J | 
'A note by Rev. Thomas Baker' sent to Hearne, Oct. 26th, 1729. Caii Vindiciae ; I i 
Hearne's ed., p. lvii. 

2 The editor of this edition of 1574 has printed on the back of the title the | ' 
following, and it is not at all improbable that it is from the pen of Archbishop 
Parker himself : ' Non tam solicitus fuit Caius noster cum adversario suo de 
utriusque academiae antiquitate in hoc opere contendere, quam quae ex variis 1 
antiquis monumentis de statu, privilegiis, dignitate ac praerogativa Cantabrigiae n 
ipse collegisset edere ac in lucem proferre. In quo cum maxime elaborasse facile n 
erit sano ac prudenti lectori deprehendere.' I | 



historical rather than a controversial point of view. It goes over much 
the same ground as his other work, and is of no value whatever as 
regards any argument. The title is : — 

' Historia Cantabrigiensis Academiae ab urbe conditae — Authore Jo- 
hanni Caio Anglo. 

* Londini in aedibus Johannis Daii, An. Dom. 1574. Cum Gratia et 
Privilegio Regiae Maiestatis.' f ,, 

Besides the above named, more than a century afterwards, it was 
found that the Oxford champion had left behind him, first of all, 
an annotated copy of the book of John Caius, De Antiquitate Canta- 
brigiensis Academiae, pointing out his fallacies, and, further, a distinct 
MS. work which Hearne entitles : — 

i Thomae Caii, Collegii Vni'versitatis regnante EVvzabethae Magistri, Vin- 
diciae Antiquitatis academiae Oxoniensis contra Joannem Caium Canta- 
brigiensem. In lucem ex autographo emisit Thos. Hearnius. 
' Oxonii, E. Theatro Sheldoniano, mdccxxx.' 

It would seem from the account which Hearne gives of this MS. 
that Thomas Caius, soon after the first edition of his book had 
appeared, surreptitiously printed by his adversary, determined to reprint 
himself the two books of John Caius, De Antiquitate Cantabrigiensis 
Academiae, and to add his own strictures upon the statements made in 
them on the margin; further, to add his own original A ssertio A ntiqui- 
tatis Oxoniensis Academiae', and, lastly, to subjoin certain Animad- 
versions at the end. He had, however, scarcely prepared them for the 
press, when, in 1572, he died. The original MS. was retained in 
private hands, and while the work of John Caius, immediately after his 
death, had found friends at Cambridge to support the reprinting of it 
in a handsome form (i.e. in 1574), as has been shown, no friends in 
Oxford came forward to support even the printing of the MS. which 
Thomas Caius had left behind him. So the latter MS. remained 
unpublished, passing from one person to another till it came into the 
hands of Archbishop Usher, thence to his nephew, James Tyrrell Usher, 
thence by bequest to some one whose name Hearne does not mention, 
but refers to him only as quidam vir litteratus, who gave it into his 
hands on the condition that he should print it, and so it was not till 
a.d. 1730 that, under the general title of Vindiciae Antiquitatis Aca- 
demiae Oxoniensis^ it saw the light 1 . 

1 Hearne, as is his wont, has printed many other things with it, some of which 
have nothing to do with the question, so that the De Antiquitate Cantabrigiae, the 
Assertio Oxoniensis, and the Animadversiones only form a portion of the two 
volumes. The other book of John Caius, the Historia Cantabrigiensis, was not 
thought worth reprinting by him. 



We now come to the actual controversy, and it will be best on this 
to let John Caius tell the story himself. He writes at the commence- 
ment of the De Antiquitate:-— 

' A serious controversy arose between a certain Oxonian and the 
Cambridge orator concerning the antiquity of either University, one 
which will become more serious if the dispute is not settled . . . The 
cause of this great controversy was this. The Cambridge orator 1 , when 
he delivered his oration on the occasion of the visit of the Queen to 
the University of Cambridge in the nones of August [Aug. 5th] 1564, 
amongst other things by chance stated briefly that the Cambridge 
University was ancient and much more ancient than Oxford . . . Hence 
a certain Oxonian taking offence sets to work on the opposite side, at 
a commentary which he calls, " The assertion of the Antiquity of the 
University of Oxford," in which he insists with great contention that 
the Oxford University was far older than the Cambridge. . . . Two 
years after these things took place at Cambridge, he, by the interposi- 
tion of a friend at court, exhibited this commentary to the same Queen 
Elizabeth, when her Majesty on the day before the Kalends of Septem- 
ber [Aug. 31st, 1566] visited Oxford V 

The certain Oxonian was Thomas Caius of Oxford, and from what 
he afterwards wrote in his Animadversiones, it seems that both the 
MS. copies of this Assertion came improperly into the hands of the 
Cambridge Caius, and that he printed it, as already said, without the 
author's knowledge or leave, prefixing his answer to it at the same 
time 3 . 

Further, as has been said, a letter was written to the Cambridge 
orator, which supplied him, so to speak, with a 1 brief ' on which 
to base his oration, and there is good reason to suppose that John 

1 William Masters, Fellow of King's College, was Public Orator at Cambridge 
at the time of the Queen's visit. An account of this visit is preserved, from the 
pen of Dr. Nicolas Robinson, in which direct reference is made to Masters' oration, 
both as to the place whence it was delivered and the manner in which the Queen 
listened to it when seated on a somewhat restive horse. 

2 De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 3. 

3 His story is briefly as follows : A friend showed him the Cambridge speech, 
and asked him if he could overthrow the arguments in it. He obeyed, and within the 
space of one week wrote a treatise, or little commentary, to which he affixed the title 
Assertio Antiquitatis Oxonicnsis Academiae, and immediately sent it to the person 
at whose request it had been written ; he was, however, far from anticipating that 
it would be committed to the press. After some days it was received by a person of 
great authority, and not restored. Another copy was therefore made to be kept at 
home. A certain person wished to inspect it, and he gave it, unknown to the 
writer, to the Earl of Leicester, who kept it in his library, until a certain Cam- 
bridge antiquary, calling himself Londinensis, getting possession of {both copies, 
l formulis cxcudendum curarit, adjuncta simul sua satis aculeata et mordaci 
apologia? Hearne's ed., p. 316. 



Caius was himself the author of it, since he prints it in the forefront of 
his treatise, as follows : — 

' Cambridge, says the Antiquary in his letter to the orator, had its 
origin Anno Mundi 4321 \ according to the " Cambridge Black-book," 
in which you find many things concerning the origin of the Cambridge 
University. From other ancient books which I have seen I have learnt 
that it begins in the year of the world 1829, and in the year 3377 and 
4095 and 3588, and this last one I think to be the true one, because it 
was about this time that King Gurguntius lived, and it was during his 

reign all agree that Cambridge had its origin I do not find any 

other founder named than the Spanish Cantaber except by Polydore 
Virgil, who refers its origin to a more recent time, which does not 
seem to be likely for many causes. That the University acknowledges 
Cantaber as its founder, its letter to Philip of Spain, written August 4, 
1544, shows. These notes will satisfy your request, and I would rather 
excite your own researches as to the matter. I write no more. Vale. 

' Thus far the letter of the Antiquary, written familiarly, he never 
suspecting, I believe, that it would ever be published V 

The speech of the orator before the Queen, which is said to have 
challenged the Oxonian, is as follows : — 

1 It remains still, most excellent Princess, since the cradles of the 
many different colleges have been briefly noticed, to explain in a few 
words when our University itself began to exist. It is written in our 
History that it was built by a certain Cantaber, King of Spain, who, 
when driven out from his country by civil war took refuge in our 
kingdom. Leland accuses the authors of this opinion of vanity and 
falsehood, and makes King Sigebert the founder of our University, in 
doing which he has left behind him the pernicious example of too 
curiously inquiring into histories 3 , and he is little consistent with him- 
self. For if he does not believe the many authorities so wonderfully 
in agreement on this point, how can he expect others, exercising some- 
what more caution, to put any trust in him alone ? But whether one 
refers to this or that author, this is manifest amongst all that our Uni- 
versity is many more years older than Oxford. For that is said to 
have been established by King Alfred, whom everybody knows was 
much later as to date than both Gurguntius and Sigebert. Besides, to 
our great glory, all histories with one voice 4 testify that the Oxford 

1 No notice can possibly be taken of the chronological systems adopted by any of 
the writers in regard to this early myth. It would be an endless task. 

2 De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 11. 

3 This attack upon Leland is very characteristic, but it is caused by his having 
reported upon the Cambridge Black-book in his annotations to the ' Cygnea Cantio ' 
as follows : ' Profecto nihil unquam legi vanius, sed neque stultius aut stupidius.' 

* Comments on such expressions as these are needless. It can only be presumed 
that the orator calculated that strong assertion would be accepted as evidence by 
i his audience, but it was scarcely complimentary to the astuteness of Queen 



University borrowed from Cambridge its most learned men, who in its 
schools provided the earliest cradle of the " ingenuae artes" and that 
Paris also and Cologne were derived from our University, and had our 
Alcuin, who was the disciple of Bede, and who was the first at Paris to 
open, for those who desired to learn, a place for studying " bonae artes." 
Thus far the orator V 
A great part of the Assertio Antiquitatis Academiae Oxon, which was 
written in reply, is of course taken up in refutation of these statements 
about Cambridge, but the Oxford writer is evidently much tied, for in 
overthrowing the foundation on which the champion of the Cambridge 
story relies, he sees that there is great danger of sapping those on 
which his own Oxford story rests. The author, however, thus lays 
down at the beginning his proposition as to the antiquity of Oxford, 
basing it upon what he assumes to be a known fact that Alfred 
founded a college, and upon the implied fact that there was a University 
here long before : — 

' It is certain (constat) that the college of the University, which first 
was called the Great Hall of the University, was founded by the very 

good and likewise very learned Prince Alfred about the year 

873, in the first or at most the second year from the beginning of his 
reign. At which time he applied all his powers towards the restoration 
of our University which a good many of our writers call the founda- 
tion For it may be gleaned, as well from many other writers as 

from our own History 2 , that there was a celebrated School of Philoso- 
phers sprung originally from those Greek Philosophers who, together 
with the Trojans, under the leadership of Brutus, landed upon this 
island. When indeed he [the writer of the Historiola] wishes to prove 
that Oxford University was by far the most ancient of all the schools 
of the Christian world, he adds, in the place of the proof, the arrival of 
the said Philosophers at Crekelade, or more accurately Grekocolade, 
narrating on what occasion they had come thither and how, after some 
time they chose the city of Oxford as a convenient place for their 
residence both on account of its proximity and its pleasant situation. 
Meanwhile, however, he makes no mention of Alfred, whom indeed 
he would not thus have passed over if he had been the first builder of 
our city. I know, however, there are not wanting men also of great 
learning, who affirm that nothing can be gleaned in proving the institu- 
tion from the Historiola, because there is no mention made in it of the 
translation of the Philosophers thence to Oxford, either at what time 
or for what reason or by whom the translation was effected. 

' There are others also who, on the authority of the Black-book of 
Cambridge, assert that the Grekelade schools were originally instituted 
by Penda, King of the Mercians, by permission of King Cedwalla, and 

1 Thomae Caii Antiquitatis Assertio, Hearne's ed., p. 281. It has been thought 
well to give this orator's speech in the original in Appendix A, § 14. 

2 The Historiola. See ante, p. 10. 


that afterwards they were translated by Alfred to Oxford. Which 
indeed I believe to be just so far true as that it is probable that a 
tyrant so cruel, impious, and bloody .... ever thought of establishing 
any general places of learning at all. But I return to the point. 
Although this History of ours does not contain these things directly, 
it implies them, if the reader will only examine the matter attentively 
and thoroughly. For what other fact, I ask, does this weighty narrative 
above mentioned concerning the Philosophers "of Grekelade record if 
it is not that, some time after their arrival, allured by the attractions 
of a more pleasant habitation, they came to Oxford, which change was 
easy on account of its vicinity, and that leaving their former abode 
their disciples taught philosophy here as they had formerly taught it at 
Grekecolade 1 ? ' 

Here we have the chief evidence adduced by the champion on the 
Oxford side, on which he had to rely for sustaining the greater 
antiquity of Oxford as against the arguments used in the orators speech 
before Queen Elizabeth 2 . 

He next proceeds to adduce other arguments, beginning with a 
strange one from a treatise by Walter Burley, entitled Summa causarum 
problematum Aristotelis, in which the writer incidentally refers to the 
situation of Oxford as agreeable to the principles laid down by ancient 
philosophers, inasmuch as it was flat and open towards the north and 
east, and hilly towards the south and west^adding that the place was no 
doubt fixed on by the industry of the Greek philosophers. But as the 
writer flourished circa 14 70-1 500 he had heard the story, and the 
value of his evidence is therefore no greater than that of the theory 
that the site of Oxford was chosen in accordance with the rules of 
Aristotelian philosophy 3 . 

Next, he adduces the MS. marginal note, which, as he says, Leland 
once added to a passage in the Historia of Polydore Virgil 4 , and 
which has already been given. It does not seem, however, to occur 
to him that the value of such evidence would depend upon the value of 
* the certain writers of great antiquity ' to which he says Leland refers. 
It is much the same with a similar paragraph in the Historiola which 
he next quotes, and in which the authority runs (as has been seen) 
'prout suae fu dationis insinuant hisioriae Britannicae perantiquae 5 .' 

1 Assertio Antiquitatis, Hearne's ed., p. 276. 

2 See extract from the orator's speech given above, p. 25. 

3 Assertio Antiquitatis, Hearne's ed., p. 279. Walter Burley wrote several 
treatises on different portions of Aristotle, though one bearing that precise title has 
not been observed. 

4 Assertio, Hearne's ed., p. 279. See ante, p. 16. 

5 It is rather singular that Antony Wood in quoting the Historiola, which he 
puts forward in the forefront of his argument {Annals, vol. i„ 4to, Oxon, 1 792, p. 8), 
omits the reference to Historiae Britannicae perantiquae, as if he knew it was worthless. 



His next point is that if a book of Leland, which he wrote before 
his death, were to see the light, it would prove that Oxford was more 
ancient than Cambridge. He then, thinking enough has been said to 
prove the antiquity of Oxford, proceeds to attack the position of the 
orator as to the antiquity of Cambridge. Throughout the remain- 
ing thirty pages of the edition in the small size, Oxford is scarcely 
mentioned, and then only in a general way as being older than Cam- 
bridge, based on passages from Leland 1 , from Polydore Virgil 2 , and 
from the Hhtoria Regia 3 . 

The Cambridge champion, in his reply, gives the letter of the orator 
and the orator's speech, as has been seen, and then quotes the Oxford 
Historiola, which has already been printed entire so far as it affects this 
early history ; he then remarks (only too justly) that on this document 
almost all the whole of the argument of the Oxford champion rests. 
He then begins at once to defend the Cambridge story, excusing rather 
than justifying the date of Anno Mundi 1829 for its foundation. In 
fact, the whole of his first book is taken up with adding pseudo- 
authorities for his Cambridge story, and in answering the attack upon 
it by the Oxonian. Here and there, however, he incidentally refers to 
the Oxford story as regards the position of his antagonist. For 
instance, he takes note 4 of the reference to Leland's book, De Academus, 
which would do so much, according to the Oxonian, if it were only 
published, by remarking that the argument reminds him of the 
proverb, ' St coelum ruat caperentur alaudae? Again, in meeting one 
of the attacks of the Oxonian (more bold than usual considering his 
position) when he adduced the fact that neither Geoffrey of Monmouth 
nor the Historia Regia made any mention of Cantaber ; he successfully, 
so far as he is concerned, parries the assertion by rejoining : — 

' Neither does Henry of Huntingdon nor the Historia S. Albani, in 
the life of Alfred, make any mention of the Oxford school. Nor does 
Matthaeus Florilegus. In no life of Alfred is there a word about the 
Oxford University. I read that Exonia (in some written Oxonia) was 
besieged by Alfred, but of the schools of Oxford instituted by him I 
read nothing, nor indeed even in John Capgrave's life of S. Neot, in 
his book which he wrote about English Saints, is there anything ; but 
in this there is a good deal about the English school at Rome. "Was 
there therefore no Oxford University? or was there no Cantaber 5 ?' 

1 Assertio, Hearne's ed., p. 282. 2 Ibid. p. 301. 

3 Ibid. p. 302. This Historia Regia is often cited. It seems to be the same as 
Historia Buriensis, i. e. a chronicle compiled by a monk of Bury in the time of, and 
as is said, at the command of, Richard II. It has not been printed, nor is it, it is 
believed, worth printing. 

4 De Antiqtiitate, Hearne's ed., p. 29. 5 Ibid. p. no. 


2 9 

And so again later on, arguing as to the term schola and scholae, he 
refers to the Oxford argument by saying : — 

'If the plural number is of any value towards making the word 
mean a University let it be so because Sigebert placed schools at Cam- 
bridge, and therefore he founded the University at the same time he 
founded the schools. And it necessarily follows that you must allow 
also that the University of Oxford was not first of all a University, but 
a grammar school such as Eton or Winchester. For Asser, in his work 
" De gestis Alfredi" says he gave the third part of his goods to a School 
which he had zealously collected together from the boys of his own 
nation, whether noble by birth or otherwise V 

With the exception of these few incidental references to the Oxford 
argument, the first half of his work, which he styles Liber I, is occupied 
wholly with a defence of the Cambridge story. It consists of over 
250 pages of the small size of the edition of 1568. The second book, 
of about 100 pages in the same edition, consists of an attack upon 
the arguments put forth for the antiquity of Oxford. The writer does 
not confine himself to those arguments only which are adduced so 
briefly by his antagonist in the forty pages of the Asser fio, but he goes 
over many others, and with most praiseworthy industry seems to have 
searched out all the passages which had been, or might have been, 
adduced by different controversialists in favour of the Oxford story, 
only, of course, for the purpose of answering them, or exhibiting 
their discrepancies one with another, or their general inconsistency 
with known history. 

He begins 2 with the unsatisfactory character of the assertion of the 
Historiola that Oxford was the first and foremost ' of all other Latin 
Universities of the world/ which fact was said to be derived from 
* historiae Britannicae perantiquae' and he amuses himself with some 
criticism upon the theory that the Trojans, who had to fight the 
Britons to gain possession of the land, should bring Greek philosophers 
with them. Then he proceeds to pull to pieces the Creklade story, 
both as to its vicinity to Oxford, on which such stress is laid, and its 
name; also, as to what it was called before Grekelade, the various 
spellings, and finally the discrepancies between the several stories as 
given by the different chroniclers adduced, such as Leland, Rous, the 
Historiola, and the Chronicon Jornallense. But he makes his points good 
solely for this reason, that each of these chroniclers are referred to by 
his antagonist as independent authorities, and consequently it is easy 
to show that the different stories will not hold together. His arguments, 

1 De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 11 *]. 

2 Ibid. p. 176. 


however, though tedious, often bring out very clearly the baseless 
character of the myth. He then turns aside 1 to discuss a point which 
he says that the Oxonian brings forward in his Asserlio, that certain 
Clementine Constitutions mention Oxford and do not mention Cam- 
bridge. But as the Constitutions in question were only promulgated at 
the Council of Vienna in 1 3 1 1 it is difficult to see why the question is 
introduced at this point. He soon returns, however, to discuss the 
names of Bellositum, Oxonium, &c, and the terms Ceastre and Caer. 
His ability to cope with such questions critically may be gauged by the 
following sentence : — 

1 And so if it had been established as a city, or named by the Britons, 
it would have been called Caeroxon ; if by the Saxons Oxenche'ster, or 
Oxenforde from Oxonium, the earlier but not ancient name, and forde ; 
not Oxonium V 

After some rather objectless disquisition on the Caer-penu-hel-goit, 
said by Geoffrey of Monmouth to be Exonia (which may in one or 
two instances have been written Oxom'a), he expresses his disbelief in 
Bellositum being a proper name ; but he thinks it was a casual name 
given on account of its pleasing situation. He holds 3 that the most 
ancient name of Oxford must be Ridohen, for which opinion he relies 
oh the seventh book of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and the fifth book of 
the Eulogium Historiarum ; and as Boso is named as Consul of 
Ridohen he finds that Boso and Vadum Boum must have necessarily 
the same origin, and therefore substantiate the story. It is almost 
impossible, however, to follow his argument, nor does it appear very 
plainly in what way he upsets his antagonist, who has only to fall 
back upon Rous's ingenious theory of a succession of names. 

At the end of this disquisition he comes to the story of Alfred's 
foundation, which he treats as follows : — 

'But, however this be, there is not mentioned anywhere one 
word, so far as I know, of a University here whether called by the 
name of Oxford or by the older name, before the time of Alfred. After 
the time of Ranulph [i.e. Ralph Higden] who lived about a.d. 1363, 
almost all authors whom I have seen, and I have seen a good many, 
recognise Alfred to be the founder : even Graius assenting to it and 
Sir Jean de Monteville 4 . Knight, who wrote in French an account of 

1 De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 186. 

2 Ibid. p. 190. He is possibly referring to the fact that Geoffrey of Monmouth 
in one place uses the name Oxonia in reference to supposed British times. 

8 Ibid. p. 193. 

* It cannot be discovered what he means unless it be Sir John Mandeville. Of his 
book, an edition was printed as early as 1499, and another edition was published the 
same year as the De Antiquitate, i. e. 1568. 


3 1 

his journey to Jerusalem in the year 1367. He, that is Graius, in the 
Scala Cronica, in the life of Alfred, writes thus, " Ceste Roi Alured fist 
etaoiir le universite de Oxenforde 1 ."' 

He argues that Leland, on whom his antagonist has relied so 
implicitly for overthrowing the Cantaber story, makes Alfred the actual 
founder of the University, not the restorer, and the same Polydore Virgil 
and Ranulph [Higden] do before him. He meets, too, the argu- 
ment which the Oxford champion had drawn from the Historiola in 
respect to its silence about Alfred, by asking 2 , 'If it were only a 
restoration, and not a foundation, how is it that it is not mentioned by 
other writers in so many words ? ' He also comments on the statement 
that Alfred founded University Hall, and questions how this agrees 
with the restoration of the University. He then touches upon some 
further objections as to the Cricklade schools, and, quoting from the 
Chronicon Jornallense, shows that the authorities are not agreed 
whether the Cricklade schools were transferred to Oxford in the time of 
the Britons, or in the time of the Saxons, or in the time even of King 
Alfred, and whether or not, after they were restored, they died out. 
Here is an example of a clever piece of reasoning on these points : — 

' From this and that, it also necessarily follows that : If the Cricklade 
schools were swept away before the time of Alfred so neither are the 
Oxford scholars sprung from them, nor were they created or increased 
by the translation, or restored by Alfred since they were not before 
this sprung from the Philosophers, nor could they by reason of the 
vicinity of the two have coalesced with them. And in the second 
place, that which is of still greater weight must be added from history, 
that in the time of Alfred there was no grammar school at all through- 
out the whole western kingdom. And this you would be able to aver 
much more surely if you read Alfred's letter to the Bishop of Wor- 
cester V 

Hitherto his arguments perhaps may appear somewhat weak, 
because they depend upon the mere words rather than on the general 
sense of the Chronicles ; but, as already said, if the passages quoted 
are received as authorities in the sense in which his antagonist receives 
them, these arguments have considerable weight. At this point, how- 

1 Scala Chronica, by Thomas Graius, MS. Lamb. 22. It has not been ascer- 
tained at what date this author wrote. 

2 De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 193. 

3 Ibid. p. 200. By this vague reform he means no doubt the Preface to Alfred's 
version of the Cura Pastoralis of Gregory, though in this treatise Alfred does 
not say there was no grammar school. All he says is that there were very few on 
this side of the Humber who were able to understand their service in English, or 
even to turn a letter from Latin into English : still a passage in Asser justifies the 
statement that there were no grammar schools. 


ever, he seems to enter upon a new and more vigorous course of 
action. He begins to consider the authority of ' the authorities ! ' 
Hitherto he had attacked the Oxonian on lines parallel to those on 
which the latter had defended his position with regard to the antiquity 
of Oxford, namely, by accepting the statements of writers of all periods, 
as if they were equally reliable. They were, it is true, the same lines 
to which he had adhered in defending his story of Cantaber — indeed, 
the only lines appearing to be at all tenable under the circumstances. 
On the other hand, too, the Oxonian, during his attack upon them, 
scarcely ever ventured to move beyond the lines he had drawn for his 
own defence. Now, however, the Cambridge champion, having 
arrived at the time of King Alfred, completely changes his tactics. 
He has driven his adversary away from his positions, which gave him 
Cricklade and Bellositum in British times, by pressing on him the 
importance of the reiterated statements of several authors that Alfred 
was the first founder of the University of Oxford. He now over- 
throws the statements of these very authors, and will not allow that 
the University of Oxford can boast of an antiquity even as early as 

It will be remembered that the argument in the orator's speech was 
that while Cambridge could boast of Cantaber as its founder, and, if 
not that, at least King Sigebert (which even its supposed enemies were 
said to allow), the University of Oxford could only go back to Alfred, 
* whom everybody knows was much later as to date than both Gur- 
guntius and Sigebert V Now, however, the credit of Alfred's foundation 
is an object of attack : — 

' If in the whole western kingdom there were no schools, where were 
those of Oxford ? If in the time of Alfred there were none, how could 
Alfred be a founder of your school ? how a benefactor ? But if he was 
not the founder, where is the invention of your Higden, and where 
that of Higden's mimic your Historia Regia ? and of all those who 
follow in the wake about Alfred being the founder of the Oxford 
School, of the variety of the Arts taught, and the number of the privi- 
leges ? For they write that Alfred established the University of Oxford, 
and rendered the city famous by his many privileges granted to it, 
which are certainly nothing else but mere figments, composed for the 
sake of glorifying the University of Oxford, or else glorifying Neot, as 
we shall presently show. For Asser, the Chaplain of Alfred, Capgrave, 
and Osbern in the life of S. Neot, Henry of Huntingdon and William 
of Malmesbury, in the acts of King Alfred make mention of the Eng- 

1 See the orator's speech, ante, p. 25 (Hearne, p. 282). Also note Caius' argu- 
ment, ante, p. 30 (Hearne, p. 192), though previously he had already hinted at this 
line of argument : ante, p. 28 (Hearne, p. no). 



lish school at Rome (which Ina erected, and Ethel wulf, Alfred's father, 
restored) and how it was endowed with Pontifical privileges at the 
request of Alfred, but say nothing of the Oxford school founded by- 
Alfred or furnished with Charters V 
Then, referring to the historical improbabilities of Alfred founding a 

school in Mercia at that time, and a chronological difficulty in reference 

to Neot's death, he concludes with : — 

1 Wherefore I think it is through an error of the Scribes that they 
speak of Schola Oxoniensis when they should say Romana. Otherwise 
Asser who was one of the familiar friends of, and attendants upon, 
Alfred, and to whom everything of his life and actions were known, 
would most certainly have recorded this as something most worthy of 
memorial V 

It would almost appear that, having come nearly to the end of his 
book, his work had taught him the right way of proceeding, for he 
devotes two or three pages to a disquisition on the relative credit to be 
given to statements made by the older and the newer authors, and 
amongst other observations makes the following : — 

' For those more recent writers who seem to hand down blunders 
as it were hand from hand, and sometimes add a blunder or so of their 
own as well, just so far as they deviate much from historic fidelity so far 
they corrupt much which the older historians set forth truthfully V 

He then proceeds 4 to give some examples of his theory. They are 
certainly not well chosen, but they show that he has more than a 
glimmer of the truth respecting historical data becoming more and 
more impure as they descend further from the source. When one 
reads these later pages of his second book, one cannot but ask, ' if 
only he had applied those principles in the slightest degree to the two 
hundred and fifty pages of his first book, where would two hundred 
and forty of them have been ? ' 

It is only right, perhaps, after exhibiting the defence of and attack 
upon the antiquity of the Oxford University, to say a few words about 
the discussions as regards the antiquity of the Cambridge University. 
Besides being only fair, it will be useful, as the growth of the myths 
appear to have gone on very much pari passu — the one series explains 
and illustrates the other ; and lastly, because the rivalry between the 
two Universities, which in its earliest stages had not the benefit of the 
printing-press to chronicle the disputes, has been, there can be little 
doubt, an important factor in the propagation of the myths which 
have surrounded the early history of the two foundations. 

1 De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 202. 2 Ibid. p. 204. 

3 Ibid. p. 206. 4 Ibid. p. 207. 




The outline of the story of Cantaber in one of its stages, and 
perhaps the earliest, has already been given from the pages of Rous, 
and to this stage an approximate date may be assigned of a.d. 1490. 
It rests practically upon the same ground, and may be correlated with 
the particular stage of the story of Mempric, as detailed by the same 
chronicler. It is mainly a combination of stories which have grown 
up around guesses either of an historical or etymological nature. 
Rous, as already said, may well have seen the Oxford Historiola as 
we now have it, when he compiled his Oxford story, and worked it 
into his chronicle ; but if he had seen the Cambridge Historiola when 
he wrote his 1 Historia regum Angliae,' he certainly did not think it 
necessary to insert much from it, and his own story in some particulars 
differs widely from it. He adopts the theory that a person named 
Cantaber was founder of Cambridge, and he includes the story of his 
founding a siudium there, but goes no further. This Cambridge 
Historiola, which is much longer than its Oxford representative, seems 
to be also in a higher stage of development. It has been the subject 
of much criticism, but there seems to be a very general agreement in 
ascribing it in substance to Nicholas Cantelupe \ who was a Welshman 
but was Prior of the Carmelite Monastery in Northampton, where he 
died in 1 44 1. It appears, however, that the official copy now relied 
on as the chief authority was not transcribed into the Black Book till 
about 1509, when Dr. Buckenham was Vice-Chancellor, and in it may 
possibly have been inserted a good deal more than was in the original 
copy by Cantelupe. It is far too long to print here entire, but 
Leland's summary of it, which excited the wrath of the Cambridge 
champion, may not be out of place : — 

' There exists at Granta Girviorum in the archives an Historiola of 
an uncertain credit. Herein it appears that Gurguntius, some unknown 
British King, gave to a Spanish Cantaber who had studied at Athens, 
the eastern part of Britain, and that he afterwards built a city on the 
river Cante, and established a University there, which took its name 
from his son the Earl Grantanus. The same informs us that Anaxi- 
mander and Anaxagoras, Greek Philosophers, came to Granta for the 
sake of study. There are there besides a hundred fables of the same 
grain. Truly I never read anything more empty, more foolish, or more 
stupid 2 .' 

1 The treatise, as it now appears in the Cambridge Book, is printed by Hearne 
at the end of his edition of Sprotti Chronicon, Oxonii, 1719. 

- This is quoted from Leland's notes at the end of the Cygnea Cantio under the 
word ' Granta,' printed in the ninth volume of Leland's Itinerary in Hearne's edition 
of that work, p. 64. The Cygnea Cantio was first printed in 4to, London, 1544. 
It is also quoted as above by the Oxford champion, Assertio, Hearne's ed., p. 290. 



One characteristic passage, however, out of the Cambridge Historia 
must be added to Leland's summary : — 

' On this city King Cassibelaunus, when he had obtained rule over the 
kingdom, bestowed great pre-eminence. . . . And on this account, and 
because of the richness of the soil, the purity of the air, the abundance 
of learning, and the royal clemency, there gathered thither young 
men and old from the different regions of the earth, some of whom 
Julius Caesar after he had gained a victory over Cassibelaunus took with 
him to Rome, where afterwards they became famous for their Rhetoric 1 . 
It will also be well, perhaps, to give a version of the story as it 
appears in the pages of Polydore Virgil, the first edition of whose 
Historia Anglica was published in 1534, and therefore almost con- 
temporary with the Cygnea Cantio of Leland, especially as it is (in 
part) quoted by the Oxford champion: — >■ QQ^OQQ 

' If we believe the fabrications (commentisjof an unknown author, 
the origin of the city is older than the University 2 , For they say that 
there was formerly a city by name Chergrantium (sic) at the foot of a 
neighbouring hill which they call Fuyt-hill, and that while Gurguntius, 
the son of Bellinus was king, a certain Bartholomew, a man of Can- 
tabria {Bartholomeum quemdam hominem Cantabrum) came there for 
the sake of teaching, and married Chembrigia daughter of the king, and 
that he built a city called after the name of his wife Cantabrigiam, and 
in that first taught. I now however return to history V 

It will be seen here how the etymological element predominates. 
Not content with making Cantabrigia come from Cantaber, who must 
have a local habitation as well as name, we have the river Cante, and the 
earl Grantanus ; and Polydore Virgil caps the whole, as if almost he was 
indulging in sarcasm, by introducing Chembrigia. No doubt, how- 
ever, it was a Cambridge story like the rest, first told as a guess, and 
then passed on as a fact, and then told as history, leaving the 
historians to find a place and a date for the lady. It illustrates the 
Greeklade of the Oxford story, and all that followed from it. 

The other myth relating to the foundation of the Cambridge 
University, which is laid stress upon in the controversy, is an 
interesting one as far as it shows at what shadows the writers were 

1 Quoted from the Cambridge Historia as printed in Sprotti Chronicon, ed. 
Hearne, p. 265. It is so characteristic a passage that it is given in the Appendix 

2 It must be remembered that Polydore Virgil elsewhere ascribes the University 
to King Sigebert in the seventh century. 

3 Polydori Virgilii Historia Anglica,Yfo.v.Y'\TsX. ed., Basil, 1534. Douay ed., 
i2mo, 1603, p. 296. Quoted by the Oxford champion, Hearne, p. 285, and 
accurately so. He however prints Whit-hill for Vuyt-hill. Polydore Virgil 
died in 1555. 

A, §15. 



ready to grasp, so as to gain a point in their favour. It is the story of 
Felix, Bishop of the East Angles, founding the University of Cambridge, 
and it rests wholly upon a single passage in Beda's Ecclesiastical 
History, which runs as follows : — 

'At this time [i.e. a.d. 636] 1 Sigbert ruled over the kingdom of the 
East Angles .... a good and religious man, who some time before, 
had been baptized in Gaul whilst he was living there in exile; and 
returning home, as soon as he came to the throne, being desirous to 
imitate those things which he had seen to be well ordered in Gaul, set 
up a school in which youths might be instructed in letters ; and this 
with the assistance of Bishop Felix, whom he had received from Kent, 
and who furnished them with teachers and masters after the manner 
of the Kentish men V 

Naturally this brief passage has given rise to much conjecture, both 
as to what schools in Kent are referred to, and where the school was 
established in East Anglia. Taking into account the surrounding 
circumstances, it is clear that the object which Sigbert had, and which 
Bede, in recounting this circumstance evidently wished to show he 
had, was to supply education for a native clergy, and not to be 
dependent on priests from Gaul or Italy. That such a school had 
already been established at Canterbury was certainly Bede's belief, and 
he may well have held it from the facts supplied to him by Nothelm, 
and which he duly records, namely, that when the see of Canterbury was 
vacant in 628, the reigning Pope appointed as a successor in the see 
Honorius from the school at Rome, but that in 644 Ithamar, a Kentish 
man, was 3 appointed to the see of Rochester. He was the first native 
Bishop, and as there is no reason whatever to suppose he had journeyed 
to Rome to be educated, it would appear that between the dates above 
named a native school had sprung up for the education of priests. 
Bishop Felix in 636, seeing the advantage of providing a native 
clergy, and so the necessity of supplying means for their education, 
naturally followed the Canterbury plan, and as his seat was at Domnoc 
it is only reasonable to suppose that Bishop Felix established his 
school, where now in all probability the waves of the sea wash, that 
is, if the old Domnoc is correctly assigned to the effaced Dunwich. 
But in the desire to enhance the glories of Cambridge, it was sug- 
gested that the school must have been at Cambridge, and therefore 

1 The date is fixed by the entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which under 
this year records, ' And Bishop Felix preached the faith of Christ to the East 
Angles.' Nothing is here recorded about founding any school, so that all the story 
rests wholly and absolutely upon the authority of Beda. 

a Beda, bk. iii. cap. 18. The original runs : ' instituit scholam in qua pueri 
literis erudirentur.' 3 Ibid. bk. iii. 14. 


that Cambridge could date back to the time of King Sigbert. This 
story, which first finds a place in the Chronicon Jornallense 1 , was hold- 
ing good in the early part of the sixteenth century, as is gathered 
from Leland and Polydore Virgil, but later on its rival, the far more 
wonderful story of Cantaber and the Greek philosophers, eclipsed it, 
so that, as we have seen, Leland is looked upon by the Cambridge 
champion as an enemy rather than a friend, for recording even such a 
momentary belief in Sigebert's foundation as the brief extract warrants. 

This story of Sigebert runs very much on the same lines as the story 
of Alfred. It would seem almost that the same reasoning must have 
been applied in both instances ; e.g. We have a University of Cambridge. 
We read that King Sigebert founded a school. That school must be 
Cambridge University, because Sigebert was king of the East Angles, 
and Cambridge is within the territory which once bore that name. 
And in the case of Oxford a similar argument would run : We read 
that Alfred founded schools ; one of them must have been Oxford, for 
Oxford bordered on the kingdom of Wessex. 

There are several other arguments brought forward on the Cam- 
bridge side equally worthless, for which, however, parallel examples 
may be found on the side of Oxford. First of all there is the 
circumstance that Beda mentions Cambridge 2 ; but the fact is Gran- 
chester only is mentioned, which is two miles away from Cambridge, 
nor is it spoken of otherwise than as a small deserted Roman city, 
amidst the ruins of which they discovered a coffin, which they used 
for burying Queen Ethelfrith 3 . 

Then we have as much as can be made out of the very doubtful list 
of British cities 4 , which occur in the pages of Nennius, amongst which 
Caer Grauth appears, and this, having become Caer Grant, is sup- 
posed to be the Granchester of Beda, and so Cambridge. 

Less easy to follow is the supposed connection of King Lucius with 
Cambridge, whose name is made to occur, with that of Asclepiodorus 
Constantine, Uther Pendragon, and Arthur in a charter granted to 
Cambridge by King Cadwallader 5 , but composed and written in the 
fifteenth century. Again, it would appear from certain very doubtful 
'Burton Annals/ that Christianity flourished at Cambridge before 
King Lucius, for the following is quoted from this source : — ' a.d. 141. 
This year were baptized nine of the Doctors and Scholars of Cam- 

1 Twisden, Decern Scriptores, London, 1652, col. 814. The passage has already 
been given, p. 14. 

2 De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 127. 3 Beda, bk. iv. cap. 19. 
4 De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 47. 5 Ibid. p. 64. 



bridge.' After some digression, he expresses his opinion (conjicio) 
that the missionaries of Pope Eleutherius, i. e. Elwan and Medwin, 
were alumni of the University of Cambridge 1 . There is much more 
of the same kind, but enough has been given. 

The most remarkable evidence relied upon is that which is attached 
to the documents in the Cambridge Black Book. In that we find a 
charter of King Arthur (but written in all the style of the fifteenth 
century), in which he grants, licentia sedis Apostolicae, that the Scholars 
and Doctors are to have certain liberties, such as King Lucius decreed 
when he embraced Christianity, in consequence of the preaching of 
the Cambridge Doctors, and which has this date : — ' Datum anno ab 
Incarnatione Domini 531, vii. die Aprilis in Civitate London 2 / It 
should be added that Cantabrigiensis devotes several pages to sustaining 
its genuine character, and from the same source he quotes a charter 
from Pope Honorius with regard to the privileges of the Chancellor, 
' Scrip turn apud sanctum Petrum anno ab incarnatione verbi 624, 21 die 
Februarii,' adding gravely that this too was before King Sigebert and 
Bishop Felix 3 . He then gives a charter from Pope Sergius, Scripta 
Romae in ecclesia Later anensi anno ab Incarnatione Verbi 689, tertio die 
mens is Mail 4 ", with some five or six pages, proving that these charters 
are as genuine as that of King Arthur. It would seem, if his state- 
ments are to be trusted, that the two latter were used successfully 
in a law-suit between the University and the Bishop of Ely in 1430. 
If they were forged for the purpose at this date, it would not be 
unreasonable to suppose that Nicolas Cantelupe (who died in 1441) 
was their author as well as of the charter of Arthur, as there is 
considerable family resemblance between the series and the rest of 
the Cambridge Historia. 

Looking back at the controversy as a whole, what strikes one most 
is, first, the vast number of authors from which the champions obtain 
their evidence ; secondly, the worthless character of by far the greater 
portion. It is not as if they were unacquainted with the sources of 
our history. Printed editions of the most important and, so to speak, 
standard historical authorities, were already accessible, and, as is 
shown, they had a wide acquaintance with MSS. preserved in libraries, so 
that in judging of the merits of the case, we must not attribute anything 

1 De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 67. 

2 This and the others will be found printed in full from the Cambridge Black 
Book, by Hearne, at the end of his ' Sprotti Chronicon.' It is quoted by the Cam- 
bridge champion in De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 48. 

3 De Antiquitate, Hearne's ed., p. 52. * Ibid. p. 57. 


to the ignorance on the part of the combatants of the material which 
existed for the purpose of the discussion. The fact is that with all the 
advantages resulting from later historical research, with the admirable 
work which has been carried on for years in the MS. departments of 
the British Museum and other public libraries in cataloguing and 
rendering their treasures accessible ; with the sirnilar work which has 
gone on at the Public Record Office, and by the Historical Record Com- 
mission, and with the printing also of the long series of historians under 
the direction of the Master of the Rolls, we have not obtained any further 
evidence than they possessed in support of their respective arguments. 
No records have been found, simply from the fact that no records exist. 

The controversy does not seem to have produced any other works 
during Elizabeth's reign. As has been said, the MS. of Thomas 
Caius, the Oxford champion, lay unpublished. But the case was 
taken up in the following reign and in the following century by Bryan 
Twyne, i.e. in 1608. 

Before, however, reaching this date, an event has to be recorded of 
very great importance to the controversy. The result of the contest 
seemed to show that the real issue lay with the proof of Alfred 
having founded the University of Oxford. The attack upon this was 
felt to be the boldest, as well as the most formidable, of any made 
by the Cambridge champion. It was seen by scholars that, in spite of 
the exertions of J. Caius, neither the fiction about Cantaber, nor the 
deduction from the few words of Beda about Bishop Felix in regard to 
Cambridge could be upheld, in comparison with the supposed claim of 
Alfred; and it is not improbable that this weighed with Archbishop 
Parker in issuing his edition of Asser 1 in 1574: for in this authoritative 
work the name of Oxford was not even mentioned, nor did it contain 
any statement in connection with Alfred's desire to further education, 
which could with any good reason be connected with the town ; and 
this negative evidence would do more for the Cambridge cause than 
any attempt to support the feeble stories on which the Cambridge 
champion had relied. This edition of Asser the Archbishop printed in 

1 ' Aelfredi Res Gestae editae a Mat. Parker. Literis Saxonicis sed Lingua Latina. 
Una cum praefatione latina,' fol. Lond. 1574. The words he uses form a link in 
the chain of the evidence and so must be given. He writes in the Preface (p. 1 ) : 
? Latina autem cum sint, Saxonicis literis excudi curavimus, maxime ob venerandam 
ipsius archetypi antiquitatem ipso adhuc (ut opinio fert mea), Aelfredo superstite, 
iisdem literarum formulis descriptam.' It is thought from this that he had seen the 
early MS. of the tenth or eleventh century preserved in the Cottonian Library, and 
that he had used it for his text, but it must be admitted that the passage only 
amounts to circumstantial evidence. What he probably used was a copy which 
he may well have compared with the original Cottonian MS. 



Saxon type, for the reason, so his preface implies, that the original 
MS. was so ancient. 

A few years later, i.e. in 1603, an edition of Asser was published in 
a collection of various chronicles at Frankfort 1 , with the name of the 
illustrious Camden as editor, and this contained exactly the passage 
which was wanted on the Oxford side, and with certain names and 
details which seemed to give the whole a most circumstantial aspect, 
and the appearance of being a genuine work of a contemporary writer, 
and, therefore, probably of Asser himself. 

Since so much depends on this passage in Asser, some few words 
must be introduced respecting its insertion, and the primd facie 
evidence which exists for it being a deliberate forgery. 

As sometimes happens, the investigation of evidence of a doubtful 
character is rendered still more difficult by some accident; and the 
fire which took place in Little Dean's Yard, Westminster, October 23rd, 
1 731, and destroyed many of the Cottonian Manuscripts, destroyed 
the only ancient MS. copy of Asser which was known, namely that 
marked Otho A. XII. So that we have no ancient copy to refer to. 
The matter is rendered at first a little complicated by the fact that 
there is a MS. of Asser still in the Cottonian Collection marked 
Otho A. XII, but which is not the one referred to by Archbishop 
Parker, for it is written on paper, and of the sixteenth century 2 . 
Fortunately, however, we have clear and indisputable evidence of the 
existence of such a MS. as that referred to, and since it is important to 
substantiate this, as it is the groundwork on which all other questions 
rest, three witnesses will be adduced. The first evidence is that given 
by the catalogue of the Cottonian Library made several years before 
the fire (i.e. 1696). Thomas Smith, who was employed to catalogue 
the MSS., describes Otho A. XII. as containing a considerable number 
of lives of saints and ancient fragments (against one or two of which 
is printed the word Saxom'ce), and of which the first given is Asserius 
Menevensis de gestis Alfredi Regis, Character* antiquo. Secondly, in 
a copy of this catalogue preserved in the Bodleian Library 3 a MS. note 
has been added by Wanley himself, who had the chief charge of the 
collection, viz. ' Codex Membr. in ^to constans foliis 155, 1 fol. lacerum. 
The third testimony is that of Francis Wise, who in 1772, that is nine 
years before the fire, printed an edition of Asser, and in his preface he 

1 Anglica, Normannica, Hibemica, Cambrica, a veteribus Scripta. Francfurt, 

' z The Catalogue entry is Codex chartaceus in 4to constans 36 foliis. 

3 Catalogus. Bibl. Cotton. Thorn. Smith 1696. Bodl. (Gough, London.) No. 54. 



first tells of three late MS. copies : one quite recent, which he says seems 
to have been the very copy used by Archbishop Parker (and which 
was lent to him by Gale): a second, a recent one kept in St. James' 
Palace : a third in Corpus College Library, Cambridge, of about 
200 years back (i.e. 1530), and which is only a copy of the Cottonian 
MS. But, he adds, the most ancient of all wfiich now exists is the 
Cottonian; and James Hill, of the Middle Temple, having sent him 
a specimen, he has had it engraved, and it appears in his book. It 
may be said in passing, that the specimen bears out what the Arch- 
bishop says as to its antiquity. It is not written exactly in Saxon 
characters, but in a hand which presents a mixture of peculiarly 
formed Latin letters, and some Saxon here and there occurring. It 
agrees with the note in the catalogue of 1 character e antiquo] and 
justifies the Archbishop's use of Saxon type to give an idea of its 
antiquity, while from the general arrangement of the words and from 
the errors in writing, it leaves the impression that the scribe was accus- 
tomed to Saxon words and letters, and was by no means well versed 
in Latin. The chief point, however, is that Wise, who has carefully 
collated this MS. with the others, distinctly states that the passage 
which Camden inserted in his Frankfort edition did not occur in it. 

From incidental evidence we also get at the fact that none of 
the later copies of the Cottonian MS. contained this passage, and none 
of those existing now contain it. In a word, amidst all the evidence 
(and there have been several writers who have discussed the subject, 
e.g. Bryan Twyne, Archbishop Ussher, Spelman, Antony a Wood, 
Wise, and others), in no case does any one state he has even seen 
a manuscript of Asser with the passage in it, or even venture to say 
that any one ever professed to have seen one except Camden himself. 

Other points must also be noted. The passage in question did not 
first appear in Camden's edition of Asser, but was published by itself 
some year or so previously, namely in the 4to edition of his Britannia, 
London, 1600 1 . 

In inserting this passage in his Britannia, he says, ' as we find in an 
excellent MS. of the said Asser.' 

In the edition of Asser which he printed at Frankfort, he professes 
in his preface to follow, and actually does follow, Archbishop Parker's 
edition; nevertheless he inserts this passage without a word to notify 
he has made any change. This in itself is not straightforward, 
for two questions naturally arise : if there existed this ' excellent MS/ 
why did he not use it and revise Archbishop Parker's copy by it, and 

1 The previous three editions, viz. those of 1586, 1587, and 1590 were without it. 



show what were Archbishop Parker's unauthorised additions — what 
his errors, what his omissions, if any. Secondly, why in inserting a 
passage of this great importance — the most important passage of all — 
did he take no notice of it in the preface, and make a statement as to 
the MS., whence it was derived, if he had ever seen such a MS.? 

There exists, moreover, certain correspondence touching this very 
subject, which Bryan Twyne thought of sufficient importance to 
deposit in the University Archives, and this opens up many other 
minor points which seem to be incapable of being cleared up in a way 
to save altogether the credit of those concerned. 

It appears from this correspondence that, even before the publication 
of the passage in the Britannia, Twyne and others knew of it 1 . 
Amongst the papers there is a statement that as early as December, 
1599, Mr. T. Allen asked Mr. T. James to examine the MS. which 
Archbishop Parker had used for his text, and which was supposed to 
be in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and to see if the passage 
was in it. He could find no copy, it seems, in the Corpus Library, 
but, when in London, he saw a MS. in Lord Lumley's Library, which 
he was told — and from certain indications it is clear he was rightly 
told — was the MS. used by Archbishop Parker to print from. He 
reported that the passage was not in it', and he added, by way of extra 
evidence, that it had the red ochre marks, which Archbishop Parker 
made usually in the books which he read 2 . 

This certainly ought to have prevented Bryan Twyne in 1608 from 
insinuating that Archbishop Parker fraudulently omitted the passage 3 , 
yet his words in reference to Camden's restoring the passage in- 
sinuate this if they mean anything. He puts in at the end, it is true, 
a saving clause, ( unless you say he may have used the imperfect copy 
in the Lumley Library.' As he knew the Archbishop did use it, from 
the evidence given, and from the fact that he admits he had seen it, 
his attack on Matthew Parker recoils on himself. 

Finally, we come to the astounding memorandum dated the 1 8th of 
February, 1622, which Twyne has filed in the University Archives by 
way, it must be supposed, of securing a currency for the forged 

1 It should be stated that these particulars are mainly derived from the researches 
of Messrs. Petrie and Sharpe in 1848, which they embodied in a note in the Monu- 
menta Historica, Pref. p. 79. 

2 Bryan Twyne, Ant. Ox. Apologia, ed. 1608, p. 144. It does not appear ever 
to have found its way into the Corpus Library. It is said to have been the copy 
which was lent to Wise by Gale, to collate for his edition. 

3 Ibid. The words are : ' Quem Mattheus Cantuariensis omiserat (veritatis an 
charitatis odio haud scio) dum Asserium suum Saxonicis scriptum Uteris edidit et 
tamen cum Aristotele non edidit industrial 


passage with future generations. In this he asserts that during an 
interview with Camden he told him that the passage was suspected, 
and asked him ' to give some satisfaction.' To which at first Camden 
answered that, ' Peradventure he had done so already,' and ' it might 
be he would do it more fully hereafter.' He continues : — 

' But when I pressed him further to declare himself, whether or noe 
he inserted that place upon any other man's credit, or had found it in 
any authenticall copy, manuscript or other, 1 caused (said he) the whole 
entire History of Asserius (which I published) to be transcribed out of a 
manuscript copie which I had then in my hands wherein that place now 
questioned was extant and in the very same forme as there I found it 
and in none other; marry it seemed that the copie was not verie 
antiente : and when I demanded of him how antient he thought the 
copie was, he answered, that he took it to be written about King 
Richard the second his time.' 

The memorandum, as given by Twyne, breaks off abruptly, for 
after saying that he told Camden that — 

* Some give out as though there was never any such copie at all to 
be seen, and as though he, who I hear was owner of that copie, had 
been also the author thereof (especially of that place now questioned) 
namely one Mr. Henry Savile of the Banke 1 . 

Twyne ends with an &c, instead of giving Camden's reply to this 
question as to the circumstances of the ' copy ' having been sent to 
Camden by ' Long Harry Savile, the antiquary/ as Wood says he 
was called, but known to literature as Sir Henry Savile, and to Oxford 
as a Warden of Merton College. The evidence, however, on this 
part of the business is not clear. In all probability Savile composed 
it 2 , and sent it to Camden, who inserted it in his Britannia at the 
same time as he inserted a passage which he had found in the Hyde 
Abbey Chronicle somewhat to the same effect. The story which 
Twyne gives 3 of Savile having such a MS. of Asser, and lending it to 
a certain Netelton, and Netelton losing it, will not bear examination, 
for the circumstantial evidence he adduces is not consistent. 

Without going into more details, and adducing the arguments of 
other writers, it may be useful to sum up the evidence 4 . 

1 Printed in Antony a Wood {Annals, ed. Gutch, 1792, vol. i. p. 22), from a copy 
attested to agree with the original by ' Thomas Hyde, A.M. Protobibliothecarius 

2 Antony a Wood {Annals, ed. Gutch, 1792, vol. i. p. 24) mentions that he was sus- 
pected of forging a passage in the edition of" Ingulph which he printed, and in which he 
makes the Abbot first study at Westminster, then at Oxford where he read Cicero (!). 
This would be in 105 1. The Ingulph question is a very difficult one, all the MSS. 
being late. See Riley's article, Archaeological Journal, 1862, vol. xix. p. 43. 

3 Bryan Twyne, Apologia, p. 144. 

1 In the Monumenta Britannica certain details will be found in the General Intro- 


It is certain that there was an ancient, if not contemporary, copy of 
the life of Alfred by Asser existing amongst the Cottonian MSS. before 
the fire. The MS. itself was certainly written some time before noo, 
probably 100 years before, possibly a contemporary MS. It is certain 
it had not Camden's passage. Some three or four MSS. of Asser are 
found mentioned or exist, but they are only sixteenth and seventeenth 
century copies, and appear all to have been taken directly or indirectly 
from the Cottonian copy. Not one of them has the Camden 

Next, while Camden states in his preface to his Frankfort edition, 
printed in 1603, that he followed Archbishop Parker's edition (and 
it is clear that he does so, for it includes certain spurious passages 
which the Archbishop had inserted, and adopts exactly the same text), 
he could not possibly have used another MS., for the only variation 
is the insertion of the Camden passage. That passage had been sent 
to him before 1600, when he reprinted his Britannia, and he inserted it 
with another passage from the Hyde Abbey Chronicle, both passages 
appearing in print for the first time, and both together under Oxford. 
In adopting them, the latter was said to be ' ex optimo MS. exemplari.' 
When the passage was transferred and inserted at the end of one of 
the yearly entries in his edition of Asser, neither in the preface is 
a word said in modification of the statement that Archbishop Parker's 
text is followed, nor is any note added in the body of the work. In 
other words, it is inserted surreptitiously. Though there were questions 
raised, and the matter discussed, though Archbishop Parker was 
charged with suppressing the passage, Camden held his peace for 
nearly twenty years, and allowed it to be reprinted and also translated 
into English without saying a single word on the matter. When 
within a year of his death (being 72 years of age), on the somewhat 
impertinent intrusion of Bryan Twyne, and after trying to put off 
giving any direct answer, he is made by Twyne to say, upon pressure, 
that he printed his edition of Asser from a MS. of the time of 
Richard II., which had that passage, either then Twyne misunderstood 
his answer, or he had forgotten that the book itself negatived this 
story, both by his preface in it and by the internal evidence of the 
printing of the book itself. The former hypothesis is the most 
probable, for as the whole memorandum shows that Twyne was 
intent upon what he thought to be a great work, namely, to gain 
a point in the argument for the antiquity of Oxford, rather than arrive 

duction, p. 11 and p. 79, and in the work itself, p. 467. Also in Hardy's Catalogue, 
Rolls Series, 1862, vol. i. p. 552, for some of the chief evidences on the subject. 



at the truth, he was not in a position to report accurately what he 
heard on the subject. 

It must, however, be borne in mind that it would be wrong to 
judge of accuracy of statement in writers in those days by the standard 
which we set in our own. Even Archbishop Parker's preface to his 
edition of Asser will not bear close examination, for he speaks strongly 
of following his copy, and lays stress upon leaving the MS. in the 
College, so that his work may be judged by it, and then inserts two or 
three passages from the ' annals ' of the pseudo-Asser, certainly not in 
the ' archetype ' for which he expresses such reverence. 

Of course, he thought these ' annals' were the genuine work of Asser, 
and therefore there could be no harm in improving upon the ancient 
MS. which he was following by adding them. He never thought for 
one moment he was corrupting the text of a contemporary of Alfred 
with the inventions of a twelfth or thirteenth century writer, or he 
would not have done so. However, in his case, the insertions were 
innocent ; the same cannot be said of the passage which was of so 
much importance in a controversy on which many felt so keenly. 

And now, having treated of the circumstances concerning its inser- 
tion, we have to consider the passage itself. But it will be more con- 
venient to consider the two passages together, and to give them both 
as they appear in Camden's Britannia. The first is professedly from 
the Hyde Abbey Chronicle; the second, as will be seen, professedly 
from a MS. of Asser. He had, in his previous editions of the 
Britannia, remarked that 1 when the storm of the Danish war was 
over, the most religious Prince Alfred restored their retreats to the 
long-exiled Muses by founding three Colleges, one for grammarians, 
another for philosophy, and a third for divinity.' He added, in the 4to 
edition of 1600, ' This will be more fully explained by the following 
passage in the annals of the New Monastery at Winchester/ He gives 
the passage thus : — 

4 In the year of our Lord's Incarnation 886, in the second year of the 
coming of S. Grimbald into England, the University of Oxford was 
begun; the first amongst the Regents and Divinity Readers in the 
same, being S. Neot, the Abbot who was also a distinguished Doctor 
in Theology, and S. Grimbald, the most eminent Professor of the 
exceeding sweetness of Holy Scripture. Then Asser the Priest and 
Monk most skilled in all Literature, was Regent in Grammar and 
Rhetoric. While John the Monk of the Church of S. David's was 
Reader in Logic, Music and Arithmetic. And John the Monk, the 
companion of S. Grimbald, a man of most acute intellect and most 
learned in every subject was teacher in Geometry and Astronomy 

4 6 


And this in the presence of the most glorious and invincible King Alfred 
whose memory will dwell like honey in the mouths of all,' 
At this point Camden broke off, but the original passage runs on as 
follows : — 

' both clergy and laity throughout his whole Kingdom. Then the 
most prudent King Alfred issued a decree that his nobles on account 
of the liberty given them, should have their sons disciplined by learn- 
ing, or if they had no sons, at least their servants should they exhibit 
natural ability l . 

He then proceeds in his own words : 1 Soon after, as we find in an 
excellent MS. of the said Asser, who was at that time Professor 
here ' : — 

' The same year there arose a very bad and terrible discord between 
Grymbald and those very learned men whom he had brought thither 
with him, and the old scholars whom he had found there ; for these, 
on his coming, unanimously refused to receive the rules, methods, and 
forms of lecturing which Grymbald had introduced. During three 
years there had been no very great difference between them ; there 
was however an enmity existing although concealed, which afterwards 
broke out with the utmost violence which made it clearer than the light 
itself : and when that invincible King Alfred heard of the dissensions by 
the messages and complaints from Grymbald, he went in person to 
Oxford to put an end to this dispute, and he took the greatest pains to 
hear the causes and complaints which were adduced on both sides; 
The foundation of the difference lay in this. These old scholars main- 
tained that before Grymbald came to Oxford learning had everywhere 
flourished, though the scholars at that time were fewer than in more 
ancient times, the greater part having been driven out by the cruelty 
and oppression of the Pagan [Danes]. They also proved, and shewed, 
and that by the undoubted testimony of antient chronicles, that the 
ordinances and regulations of the place were established by certain 
religious and learned men, such as Gildas, Melkinus, Nennius, Kenti- 
gern, and others, who had all lived to a good old age in these studies, 
managing affairs there in peace and harmony, and also that St. Germanus 
came to Oxford, and staid there half-a-year at the time he took his 
journey over Britain to preach against the Pelagian heresies, and won- 
derfully approved their aforesaid rules and institutions. The king with 
unheard of condescension listened to both parties most attentively, and 
repeatedly exhorted them by pious and seasonable advice to maintain 
mutual union and concord. And so he left them with the prospect 
that both parties would follow his advice and embrace his institutions. 
But Grymbold who was offended at this proceeding immediately retired 
to the monastery at Winchester lately founded by King Alfred, and 

1 Camden's Britannia. First printed in 4to ed., London, 1600, p. 331, and 
repeated in later editions. Also more fully in Liber de Hyda, cap. xiii. § 4. Rolls 
Series, 1866, p. 41. The passage in the Hyde Chronicle immediately precedes that 
already given, p. 13, beginning, ' "Which University of Oxford.' Appendix A, § 16. 



then also caused his tomb to be removed to Winchester, in which he 
had intended that his bones should be laid when his course of life was 
ended, and which was in the vault under the chancel of St. Peter's 
Church at Oxford ; this church the said Grymbald had built from the 
ground, of stone executed in the most perfect manner V 

When this passage was inserted into the Frankfort edition of Asser 
it was put under the events of the year 886 : the date being derived 
from that given in the Hyde Chronicle for the foundation. 

In tracing the origin of the Alfred myth, we are met by the same 
kind of difficulties as have already presented themselves in respect 
of the Mempric and Greeklade myths. In the case of Alfred it is most 
difficult, if indeed it is possible, to arrange in order of date the several 
passages in which the myth occurs, or discover exactly its first appear- 
ance in any chronicle. But it may be as well at once to point out that 
no writer anterior to Edward III.'s reign has been found who appears 
to have known of it, for had any known it he would have most 
certainly alluded to it in recording Alfred's labours in the cause of 
education, which so many chroniclers before that time do. 

The earliest instance observed of a reference to Alfred founding 
Oxford is the passage in Ralph Higden's Polychronicon, a chronicle 
beginning at the creation of the world and continued to a.d. 1357. 
The compiler died in 1363, but it was continued afterwards by others. 
He inserts a few words in the summary of Alfred's life at the beginning 
of his sixth book, thus : — 

1 He put together psalms and prayers into one little book which he 
called a manual, that is handbook, and carried it carefully about with him. 
He attained but a very imperfect knowledge of grammar for the reason 
that at that time there did not exist throughout the whole kingdom a 
teacher of grammar. Wherefore by the counsel of S. Neot the Abbot, 
whom he frequently visited, he was the first to establish schools for the 
various arts in Oxford ; to which city he granted privileges of many 
kinds. Moreover he permitted no illiterate person to be promoted to 
any ecclesiastical dignity 2 .' 

Possibly of Edward Ill's time also is Brompton's Chronicle, or as it 
may be more correctly called, the Chronicon Jornallense, and it has the 
passage about Oxford almost in the same words as Higden's Polychroni- 
con, but with additions similar to those in the Hyde Chronicle ; thus : — 

1 Camden's Britannia. First printed in 4to ed., London, 1600, p. 331, and re- 
peated in later editions. Also in the English translations of the Britannia, from one 
of which, i.e. Gough's folio ed., London, 1789, p. 287, the English versions given 
above are taken, though with some slight variations, where it seemed necessary, to 
bring them more closely into accordance with the original. Appendix A, § 17. 

2 Higden's Polychronicon, Rolls Series, 1883, vol. vi. p. 354. Appendix A, § 18. 


■ He put together psalms and prayers into one little book, which he 
carefully carried about with him, he attained but a very imperfect 
knowledge of grammar, because then in the whole western kingdom 
no teacher of grammar existed. For this reason by the counsel of 
S. Neot the Abbot, whom he often visited, he first of all established 
public schools of the various arts at Oxford which he caused to have 
many privileges ; "Wherefore also this king who was himself a giver of 
Alms, a hearer of Mass, and an enquirer into hidden things, summoned 
to him from a certain part of Gaul, the holy Grimbald, a monk skilled 
in literature, and in song ; also John a monk of S. David's situated in 
the farthest part of Wales, that he might gain a knowledge of literature 
from them. He also so encouraged his nobles to take up literature 
that they should have their sons taught, and if they had none, then 
their servants V 

A page or so further on, where he is writing of Alfred dividing his 
money, he says, ' of the second half, which was divided into four 
portions, the first was for the poor, the second for founding monas- 
teries, the third for scholars recently assembled at Oxford, the fourth 
for restoring churches. 

Thirdly, we have the Hyde Abbey Chronicle, from which the extract 
has already been given as quoted by Camden. 

There is, next, a passage quoted by Bryan Twyne 2 and by Wood 3 as 
the writing of William of Malmesbury, whose histories were written about 
1 120-25. But they contain nothing of the kind. The passage is stated 
by the latter to occur in his treatise De Antiquitate Glastoniensis ecclesiae^. 
Of this, though in its original shape it was written by William of Malmes- 
bury, no early copy is known to exist, and the MSS. which do exist are 
obviously filled with later interpolations. But further no MS. has been 
observed to contain the passage earlier than that of John of Glastonbury, 
who though he copies a great deal from William of Malmesbury, inter- 
polates more, and brings his chronicle down to 1 456. He may however 
have copied a somewhat earlier MS. The passage runs as follows : — 
1 Hearing of the fame of Neot, King Alfred often visited the servant 
of God, and was sometimes guided by his counsels. For by the coun- 
sel of Neot he first appointed public schools of the various arts at 
Oxford, and sent legates to Rome beseeching Martin the second that 
he would grant to the English schools the same liberties as they have 
at Rome, and what he asked of the most Holy Father without any delay 
he obtained and procured for them, privileges in many matters.' 
1 Brompton, Chronicon Jornallense apud Twisden Decern Scriptores. London, 
1652, col. 815. Appendix A, § 19. 
a Twyne, Apologia, p. 186. 3 Wood, Hist. &= Ant. Oxon, p. 43. 

4 In Hearne's edition of William of Malmesbury, De Antiquitatibus Ecclesiac de 
Glastonia, there is no trace of the passage. It is included, however, in his edition 
of John of Glastonbury, Oxon., 1726, p. ill. 


To these may be added an extract from the Historia Major, written by- 
Thomas Rudborn, at Winchester, about the year 1440. He must have 
had knowledge of the Hyde annals, but does not seem to have followed 
them. He writes : — 

' This noble King divided the kingdoms, which formerly existed in 
England into Counties ; and in order that the Christian faith should 
always increase, blossoming in flowers of piety, fie founded the Univer- 
sity of Oxford V 

A little before this passage he has : — 

* Alfred had a son Ethelward, a very learned man, and a philosopher 

at the University of Oxford. And he was buried in the new Minster 

at Winchester which is now called Hyde/ 
In another place he has written : — 

' He (Alfred) discovering a certain herdsman (subulcum) by name 
Denewlph, sent him to the schools; and he was afterwards made 
Doctor of Theology at Oxford, and was appointed to be Bishop of 
Winchester by King Alfred himself 2 .' 

Taking, then, these earlier forms of the myth as it is first presented to 
us, it would seem that the chief point in common is that Alfred founded 
schools at Oxford. But this is a natural deduction which any historian 
of the fourteenth century would make. He would have read in Florence 
of Worcester and others who had copied Asser, that Alfred encouraged 
education, and founded a school or schools ; Oxford was the chief 
school known to him, and as he had no record of its foundation, it 
would be natural for him to put the two together. Each chronicler, 
however, varies the story. 

At the end of the fifteenth century Rous treats this myth much as 
he has treated the myths which relate to the primeval founding of 
Oxford. He seems to have followed Asser in part, the Hyde Chron- 
icle in part, and to have added something of his own. It will be well 
to give his account, as it forms a link in the growth of the myth ; and 
his transference of the record of the purchases of three halls by the 
University in 1253, 1262, and 1270, to King Alfred's time, provided 
the basis, no doubt, for Camden's statement in his Britannia of there 
having been three Colleges founded by Alfred in Oxford. 

1 Thomae Rudborne Historia Major Wintoniensis, cap. vi. Printed in Wharton's 
Anglia Sacra, London, 1691, p. 207. There are some difficulties about his date ; 
as, according to Wharton, there were two Rudborns. This one seems to have 
been Archdeacon and to have died in 1442. By more than one of the controver- 
sialists the passage from the Hyde Abbey Chronicle is attributed to Rudborn, pro- 
bably from it having been copied into some one of the many Winchester Chronicles. 

s Ibid., p. 208. W. of Malmesbury tells the story, but without any reference to 
Oxford. The three passages are given Appendix A, § 20. 




Rous treats the story thus : — 

1 This King [Alfred] delighted in the society of learned men, whom he 
knew to lead virtuous lives, and so summoned Plegmund Abp. of Canter- 
bury, Werferth of Worcester before he was made Bishop, and Athelstan 
of Hereford, and Werulf of Leicester, all learned men from the king- 
dom of the Mercians. Also he joined with them the holy Grymbald 
of Flanders from the Monastery of S. Bertin, with his companions, John 
and Asser and John the Welshman from the Monastery of S. David's. 
And through their teaching he obtained knowledge of all books. At 
that time there were no grammarians throughout the kingdom of the 
West Saxons. He amongst the praiseworthy acts of his munificence, 
in the year 873 at the instigation of S. Neot established public schools 
for the several arts in Oxford ; to which city on account of his special 
love for the scholars he granted many privileges, not allowing any one 
who was illiterate to be promoted to any dignity. The masters and 
scholars, who had been converted to the faith taught in the Monas- 
teries and in other places set apart according to the manner of the 
ancient schools of Greklade, Lechlade, Stamford, Caerleon, Cambridge 
and Bellisitum, and of such other schools (studio) of this kind as were 
already in the island 

'At the first foundation of this University this noble King Alfred 
established at his own expense within the city of Oxford three Doctors, 
namely in Grammar, in the Arts, and in Theology, in three different 
places in the name of the Holy Trinity. In one of these which was 
situated in High Street (in alto Vico) towards the East gate he 
endowed the hall with all that was necessary for twenty-six gramma- 
rians ; and because of its inferiority in knowledge, he ordered it to be 
called "Parma Aula Universitatis and so it was called in my own 
time. Towards the northern walls of the city in what is now called 
Vicus Scholarum he founded another Hall with abundance of means 
necessary for twenty six Logicians or Philosophers, and this he ordered 
to be called " Aula Minor Universitatis." The third Hall which he 
founded in High Street, near East gate and close to the first on the 
west side he called [Aula Magna] and arranged for twenty-six Theo- 
logians who should promote the study of Holy Scripture, and for this 
he provided abundant means to meet their costs. 

' Besides these there grew up in a short time many other Halls of the 
different faculties, established by the burgesses of the city and of the 
neighbourhood and then by those from a distance; yet not at the 
King's expense, but through the King's gracious example V 
He then quotes the passage about the king requiring his nobles to 
have their sons educated, and adds that the king sent his own son 
Athelward to study at Oxford : then referring to Radburn 2 he gives 

1 Joannis Rossi Historia Regwn Angliae, Hearne's ed., 1 745, p. 76. Appendix A, 
§ 21. 

2 He thus spells Rudbom, but which of the Winchester Chronicles he used has 
not been ascertained. 



some particulars about Grymbald, and makes him the first Chancellor. 
After some remarks on the connection between the Oxford and the 
Paris University, he ends with saying that Grymbald in his old age 
i left the University and returned to Winchester, where, having erected 
New Minster, he was the first Abbot of the place, and died on the 8th 
ides of July, a.d. 903, in the eighty-seventh year of his age 1 . 

This last paragraph probably gave the hint to Savile, or whoever 
was the author of the Camden passage, to insert the detail about 
Grymbald having before he left Oxford built a church with a tomb in 
it, namely, St. Peter's-in-the-East ; the existence of this early crypt, 
which, before architecture was studied, and various styles observed and 
ascribed to various dates, being thought to provide exactly the kind of 
evidence which was required to prove the truth of the assertion. 

But the chief point in which the Camden passage differs from all 
others is that it has for its object to prove that Alfred did not found the 
University, which nearly all the stories connecting Alfred with Oxford 
had implied, but that he restored a previous foundation. It was ne- 
j cessary, therefore, to use Grymbald for the purpose of creating a schism, 
I by introducing new rules and regulations, and thus prove the existence 
I of former rules and so a former University ; and it was supposed to fit 
j in well with this to suggest that he deserted Oxford and went to Win- 
chester, in consequence of his new rules not being received. 

It would occupy too much space to introduce the various chronicles 
and chroniclers who, down to the year 1603, follow more or less the 
myth of Alfred founding the University, but it may be said they show 
that the writers were unacquainted with the essential feature of the 
Camden passage, which claims to be a part of the original chronicle of 
all. It is also unnecessary to point out several chronological difficulties 
which occur in the different versions, both as regards the date assigned 
for the foundation and Alfred's movements, and also the known dates 
of the professors whom he is supposed to have summoned. There is 
also the difficulty of Oxford being out of his kingdom, so far that he 
does not appear (and his will exists) to have owned any property on 
the north of the Thames, while from one end of Wessex to the other 
I his manors and vills are very numerous; nor was it till some years 
• after his death, i.e. in 912, that Edward the Elder obtained possession 
II of Oxford, which could not well have been the case if it had been his 

I 1 This Rous would find in the Hyde Abbey Chronicle. See Ed. Rolls Series, p. 83. 
' I The chronology of the Camden interpolation, it should be noted, will not agree 
1 with the Hyde Chronicle, inasmuch as it was not till the last year of his reign (i. e. 
\ )oo) that Alfred proposed to Grymbald to found the New Minster at Winchester. 
I See Ibid. p. 51. 


father s. All such are of little moment beside the one great fact, 
namely that Asser, who was Alfred's contemporary, and has written 
a very full biography of him, knew nothing of the foundation, nor did 
any of the many writers who followed Asser 1 , until Edward Ill's 
time : the myth then suddenly springs into existence and grows ; and 
then in Elizabeth's reign, when the negative evidence of Asser's 
biography was found too strong for the myth, those who were 
interested in its vitality interpolated the passage in that biography, 
which, in consequence, instead of threatening the life of the myth, 
would add fresh vigour to it. 

The Camden passage is not the only imposture connected with the 
Alfred myth. The association of this king with University College, 
and the practical use made of such association in a law-suit, is quite as 
remarkable, and though the foundation of the College and the suit in 
question belong respectively to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, 
a brief outline of the events of the foundation are rendered necessary, 
in order to show the baseless character of the plea; and a summary 
of the case must be added in order to give an idea of the credulity of 
those concerned. 

University College justly claims to represent the earliest foundation 
provided for scholastic purposes in Oxford. Before the year 1250 
there were students and schools here, but the scholars were almost 
entirely supported by monasteries, or, perhaps, in some few instances, 
by private persons. In 1249 William, Archdeacon of Durham, died, 
and left 310 marks in trust to the University to purchase houses, the 
rental of which should go to support a certain number of masters. 
This is the first endowment of the kind of which we have any record. 
The University only partially fulfilled its trust (as we learn by an 
inquisition taken in 1271), by buying some three or four houses, but 
eventually the masters admitted to the benefits of the foundation were 
incorporated, according to the plan which was laid down by Walter de 
Merton about 1274, and so the foundation became a college, though 
the original title, ' The Hall of the University,' was retained for long after. 

Under the bequest the University had first bought, c. 1253, a house 

in School Street, the site now absorbed in Brasenose College. The 

next a house, the site of which is in High Street, but on the north side 

and opposite the College. The third purchase in 1262 was a house 

in School Street adjoining the first purchase, and the site also absorbed 

1 Florence of Worcester, writing before 11 20, copies nearly the whole of Asser in 
substance. The passage succeeding the interpolation runs on immediately after 
that preceding it, and as Plorence copies nearly verbatim, it is impossible the 
passage could have been in the MSS. known in his day. 



by Brasenose College. The fourth was in 1270, for two houses on the 
south side of High Street to the east of the present college. These 
together produced only 18 marks per annum, as we find by the inquisition 
attached to the statutes granted to the masters in 1280, from which year 
we may perhaps date their incorporation. In 1292, when they have 
a second body of statutes more complete than ,the first, and proper 
provision made for their Bursar, though they do not appear yet to have 
bought further property, it looks as if the University had been able to 
pay over the money, which, instead of having invested in houses, they 
would seem, contrary to the spirit of their trust, to have lent. It was 
not till Edward II.'s reign that the masters seem to have purchased 
more houses and had others given to them, and some of these formed 
together what afterwards became their College in High Street. But 
what is to be noted is that throughout all these documents, and indeed 
throughout all those which exist up to Richard Il.'s reign, Alfred's 
name is never mentioned, nor a single word which can be in any way 
made to imply that there was an older foundation than that of William 
of Durham. 

It is not necessary to discuss which of these houses formed their 
first abode, or whether they let the houses and lived in lodgings till 
they moved into High Street, but it should be noted that in the course of 
their deeds we find the - Parva Aula Universitatis' mentioned in 1379, 
and afterwards the ' Magna Aula Universitatis ' in 1381. As will have 
been observed \ Rous goes into details, ingeniously fitting the three 
faculties to the three halls, which he makes by transferring William of 
Durham's foundations to Alfred, but being puzzled for a name for the 
third hall, invents the name of 'Aula Minor! All this manufacture is 
very poor work, but by this importation of extraneous matter by succes- 
sive writers it is that a myth obtains a substance, and so gains a cre- 
dence, which, if left in its original shape, would not be accorded to it. 

The story of Alfred's foundation of University College had probably 
obtained a footing towards the close of Edward's reign, as it was 
turned to good purposes in the next. The circumstances were briefly 
these: In 1307 (1st of Edward II.) John Goldsmith bequeathed to 
Philip Gonwardby, and Joan, his wife, a small tenement with 
messuages adjoining in All Saints parish. In 1363 (37th of 
Edward III.) the College obtained this, as appears by the ' Final 
Concord,' on payment of £40. But, not content with this, later on in 
the same year (according to another ' Final Concord '), by the pay- 
ment of 100 silver marks, they obtained all the estate of the said 

1 See ante, p. 50. 



Philip and Joan, consisting of six messuages, nine shops, fourteen 
acres of land, and fifteen acres of meadow, besides certain rents, and 
some land on the Berkshire side of the river. It appears to have been 
what would be called a good stroke of business on the part of the two 
masters who represented the college, and probably, therefore, done 
rather hurriedly, and without sufficient examination of the title. After 
they had been fourteen years, however, in possession (i. e. Ap. 12, 1377), 
a certain Edmund Francis and Idonea, his wife, challenged the right 
of the college to the estate, for it seems that John Goldsmith had, by 
a later document, made a like settlement upon them. The case 
appears a complicated one, and it would be rash to attempt to decide 
upon the rights of it. It was tried at Westminster in 1378. Then, 
under a special provision insisted on by the college, it was transferred 
to Oxford, where, it seems, they obtained a verdict in their favour, but 
by an informality as to the admission of one of the attorneys, an 
appeal was entered, and the case went back to Westminster, the writ 
of error being dated July 12, 1378. The suit was dragging on, as such 
suits did, when we find that the college, being, as it were, in extremis, 
decided upon putting in as a plea the myth about Alfred, and declaring 
the college to be a royal foundation, though not a single scrap of evi- 
dence to this effect existed in their archives, and though every piece of 
evidence which did exist pointed to William of Durham as their founder. 

The document in which this was done is known as the French 
Petition. It is not dated, but it is filed amongst the papers which 
belonged to the Parliament, which began April 25, 1379. The 
following is an extract from the Petition in English, the original 
being in the court French of that day 1 : — 

' To their most Excellent and most dread and most Sovereign Lord 
the King, and to his most Sage Council, Shew his poor orators, the 
Master and Scholars of his College, called Mickle University Hall in 
Oxenford, which College was first founded by your noble Progenitor, 
King Alfred (whom God assoil) for the maintenance of twenty-six 
Divines for ever. 

' That whereas one Edmond Francis, Citizen of London, hath 
in regard of his great Power, commenced a Suit in the King's Bench 
against some of the Tenants of the said Master and Scholars, for 
certain Lands and tenements with which the college was endowed, and 
from time to time endeavour to destroy and utterly disinherit your 
said College, of the rest of its Endowment, .... 

1 According to Antony a Wood, a copy of this on parchment was existing in the 
College Treasury, which he saw {Colleges and Halls, ed. Gutch, Oxford, 1786, 
p. 87). The original is filed amongst the Petitions 2 Ric. II, in the Public Record 



* That it may please your most Sovereign and gracious Lord and King, 
since you are our true Founder and Advocate, to make the aforesaid 
parties appear before your their most Sage Council, to show in evidences 
upon the rights of the aforesaid matter, so that on account of the 
poverty of your said orators your said College be not disinherited, 
having regard, most gracious Lord, that the noble Saints, John of 
Beverley, Bede, and Richard Armacan, and many other famous Doctors 
and Clerks were formerly Scholars in your said College, and commenced 
Divines therein. And this for God's sake, and as a deed of Charity 1 .' 

It seems that the plea commended itself to the council, who, on the 
part of the king, virtually accepted the office of patron, and, moreover, 
of founder, and all that was involved in his being accounted such ; 
and further, that in consequence the proceedings of the courts were 
stayed; for amongst the documents a writ is found in 1381, directed 
to the Sheriff, Mayor, Bailiffs, &c, of Oxford, setting forth : — 

' That the King was moved at the desire of the Masters and Scholars 
of the College, commonly called Mickel University Hall, which is of 
the foundation of our Progenitors sometimes Kings of England, and of 
our patronage. Now we being willing to assist the said Masters and 
Scholars as far as by law we can, we desire and command you, &c. 2 ' 

This meant, of course, throwing the matter into the King's hands 
and removing the whole case to the decision of the Privy Council. It 
certainly looks as if the College had a bad case, and were aware of it, 
or they would not have resorted to so dangerous a course, as risking 
their liberties for a mere pecuniary advantage. 

Still later on, for some reason not clear, another petition was ad- 
dressed to Parliament, and this like the last is preserved amongst the 
Parliamentary documents in the Record Office, but under those of the 
Parliament which began April 29, 1384. It is again in the name of 
the ' King's poor orators, the master and scholars of University Hall, 
which is of the patronage of their dread lord and founded by his noble 
progenitors V 

Although it is not, as a rule, thought necessary to stop to point out 
the absurdities in the attempts to sustain the myths, in this case it is 
curious to note to what a low ebb the historical knowledge of the 
Fellows had fallen when they propound that in their College, which 

1 Record Office Parliamentary Petition, No. 6329. Note also Rotuli Parliamen- 
torum, vol. hi. 69 a. 

2 Given in Smith's Annals of University College, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1728, p. no. 
From the same work the above summary Of facts, so far as they depend on docu- 
ments preserved amongst the College Archives, are derived, since Smith had access 
to them, and seems to have made good use of them. Antony a Wood also refers 
to several of the same documents. 

3 Parliamentary Petition, No, 6330. 



was founded by King Alfred, who came to the throne in 872, amongst 
the scholars were to be reckoned John of Beverly, whom they ought to 
have known was Archbishop of York in a.d. 705 \ and Beda, who died 
a.d. 735. Their poverty of invention, too, is shown by their finding 
no other name to couple with the above than Richard of Armagh 2 . 

The device was successful for a time. Writs of supersedeas were 
issued, the previous decisions were reversed, and all arrears were 
ordered to be paid to the College from the time of passing what was 
termed 1 an erroneous judgment.' There are several writs and docu- 
ments to this effect. One dated July 12th, another July 30th, and a 
third August 2nd, all in the same year, i.e. 1388 (12 Ric. II.), an 
extract from the last of which will show the results of the action of the 
College : — 

' And now we understand that the said Edmund and Idonia .... 
intend to implead, weary, and disquiet, as they openly threaten, the 
said Master and Scholars, by writs of fresh force, and other pleas and 
processes, as well in their own Names, as in the names of other their 
complices and encouragers ; which if it should be done, it would in the 
event tend as well to the disinheriting of us ; especially since that Col- 
lege is of the foundation of our progenitors, and of our patronage ; as 
to disinheriting of the said Master and Fellows, and the overthrow of 
the said Judgment given in our Chancery, by the authority of Parlia- 
ment as aforesaid. And because we have had full deliberation in our 
present Council now held at Oxon, we will not, as we ought not, suffer 
this ; nor that these things that are discussed in Parliament, or before 
our Council, or in other our great Courts ; especially by authority of 
Parliament, are still in discussion, should be pleaded, or any way 
treated of: We, by the advice and assent of our said Council, com- 
mand, and firmly enjoin you, that if any assize of Errour, or any other 
plea or Process, be before you against the foresaid Master and Scholars, 
or tenants of their tenements, by the said Edmund and Idonia in their 
own names, or of others concerning the foresaid tenements, begun, or 
to be begun, you put an end to them : saying to the foresaid Edmund 
and Idonia, or other prosecutors, that they should prosecute before 
our Council if they think expedient ; where we will cause a completion 
of speedy Justice to be made to them. Dated at Oxon, the 2nd of 
August, in the 12th year of our Reign, A 0 . 1388, per Concilium 3 .' 

The history of University College not being before us, but only the 
myth, it is not necessary to pursue the matter further, but there are two 
remarks which may perhaps be made in connection with the case. It 

1 See Beda, bk. v. caps. 2, 3, and 6. 

2 No doubt this is the Richard, Archbishop of Armagh, who was consecrated 
Archbishop in 1347, and had been a member of the College for a short time. He 
was Chancellor of the University about the year 1333, and died 1366. 

5 From Smith's Annals, p. 134. 



is evident the College had no scruples, for in the archives are still 
existing several forged charters relating to this property, and, it would 
appear, they had tried these first, and, as seems most likely, their 
clumsiness had led to their detection. No chance, therefore, remained 
but to resort to this myth of Alfred. Further, it should be added, that 
this decision of the Privy Council, being one of policy rather than law, in 
order to enhance the authority of the Crown than to do justice, brought 
with it its own condemnation. The losing side had thought, by invoking 
the aid of the Crown to help them, they would gain an easy victory. 
The Crown simply looked to its own advantages, and a judgment 
delivered under those circumstances had no moral weight whatever. 
The judges might make law, they could not make history. Though by 
Twyne, Wood, Hearne, and the like, the judgment is thought to prove 
that Alfred founded Oxford, no reasonable person who reads history for 
the sake of truth, and not for controversial purposes, would attach the 
slightest weight to it : further, it happened as might have been expected; 
such a judgment was simply ignored, and the thunder of the Privy 
Council had no effect; for we find in the Hilary Term, 1388-1389 
the whole matter submitted to arbitration, and the courts in January, 
1 389-1 390, register ' A Final Concord,' and the indentures between 
the Masters of the Hall and Edmund and Idonia follow, dated respec- 
tively the 3rd and 1 4th of February the same year. 

Not that the myth was wholly stamped out, for in a suit with 
the Abbot of Oseney, commenced in 1427, 'Richard Witton, Warden 
of the Great Hall of the University,' put in the plea following : — 

1 That the said Great Hall is a certain ancient College, of the foun- 
dation and patronage of the aforesaid King that now is, and of his 
Progenitors, sometimes Kings of England ; to wit, of the foundation 
of the Lord Alfred, sometime King of England, progenitor of the lord 
King that now is, before time, and in the whole time, to the contrary 
of which the memory of man does not exist ; for a Master and seventy 
eight Scholars, viz. for 26 Grammarian Scholars, 26 Philosopher 
Scholars, and 26 Theological Scholars, to be instructed, and taught to 
support, maintain and sustain the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, and 
of the holy Church, and the Laws of the Land, and the customs of the 
Kingdom of England V 

So much, then, for University College, and that part of the myth. 
As already said, after the death of the Oxford and Cambridge 
champions the struggle between the two Universities for priority of 

1 Smith's Annals, p. 145. It will be found that one of the French petitions 
represents the foundation to be for 24 divines, the other petition to be for 26, while 
this has increased the number to 28. Appendix A, § 23. 



date of foundation found no public advocates, till Bryan Twyne in 
1608 issued his Apologia^. This work consists of some 384 pages 
of closely printed matter, in 4to size, divided into three parts or books. 
It is exceedingly verbose and digressive, and it is impossible to give 
any idea of the work in a brief space. The first two parts consist 
mainly of criticism on the arguments used by John Caius, the first 
part being wholly taken up with attacks upon the Cambridge story. 
The variations of the stories as told by different authors are marshalled 
in order to show their absurd inconsistencies with each other and 
known historical facts. He shows that the ' authorities/ for instance, 
on which Caius relies for the foundation, have no idea when it happened. 
The great Cambridge Black Book gives Anno Mundi 432 1 2 , Lydgate 
4348, Caius himself 3588, Nicasius Cadney 4415, Chronicon Mor- 
ganense 4848, and four MS. authorities, which had been adduced 4695, 
4317, 4091, 3869 respectively. This work of demolition is easy, but 
when he begins the task of building up his own positions as to the 
antiquity of Oxford he labours painfully. He has to explain away 
similar variations in telling the stories introduced by the writers of the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, on whom he has to rely. But, on the 
other hand, he adduces many new arguments which had not been 
introduced before, though, as a rule, they are of the very weakest kind. 

For instance, he quotes as an authority Francis Thynne for con- 
necting Greeklade with the first Greek Archbishop, i.e. Archbishop 
Theodore (a.d. 669), but argues that Archbishop Theodore could 
have only been the restorer of schools and not their founder, because 
they existed in British times (p. 116). He takes seriously Burley's 
argument, already referred to, that the Greeks must have chosen 
Oxford on Aristotelian principles, and carefully shows that this is not 
necessarily inconsistent with their having first chosen Greeklade, and 
moved hither (p. 121). He finds satisfaction in discovering amongst 
the medieval halls in Oxford a Greek Hall, and, still more, an Aristotle's 
well (p. 123). He deduces from certain etiquette which was observed 
towards King James in 1604, when certain officials of the University 
met him on his way from Woodstock on the occasion of his visit to 
Oxford, an argument for the University having been once situated in 
St. Giles (p. 124). His dissertations on Rydochen and Boso, and the 
British name Caer, are puerile to a degree. Though for some time ' it 

1 Aniiqziitatis Academiae Oxoniensis Apologia in ires Libros divisa authore 
Briano Twyito. 4to, Oxonii, 1608. 

2 Possibly Nicholas Cantilupe, the author, gave the sequence of the figures by 
way of jest. 



was a doubtful question/ he thinks that Isis is not derived from Ice 
(i.e. glades), but may be the British word Ouse (p. 137). 

But his very far-fetched arguments as to the priority of date of 
Oxford over Cambridge, derived from the mention of the place by two 
German astronomers of the sixteenth century (p. 139), are not so 
amusing in themselves as in their mythical after-growth. He says 
(when discussing the geographical position of Oxford, or, rather, 
Britain, that 1 P. Appianus,' in the second part of his Cosmographia, in 
his description of the most famous places, names three as the most 
celebrated cities of Albion, viz. Canterbury, Ochenfurt, and London, 
leaving out Cambridge, because it was never reckoned amongst the 
famous cities of Albion. He follows this up with another instance, 
namely, that ' Cyprianus Leoviiius,' the author of the Ephemerides, in 
his index of the chief cities, omits Cambridge, but he notes Oxford. 
He then goes on to discuss the polar altitude given to Oxford and to 
Cambridge respectively by other writers. 

The P. Appianus is meant for Peter Apian, known in Germany as 
Bienewitz, an astronomer of Leipsig, who died in 1552 1 . The 
Cyprianus Leovitius is Cyprian Leowitz, a contemporary astronomer, 
who died in Swabia in 1574 2 . 

If one turns to the Memorials of Oxford, in the account of the 
city (p. 3) we find that, after referring to Rous carrying the city back 
to 1000 years B.C., and Twyne following him, Dr. Ingram writes : — 
' But not to go so far back, there is no doubt of the comparative 
importance of the place from the earliest period. Appian in his cata- 
logue of British cities amongst those of eminence mentions Canterbury, 
Oxford, and London. Cyprian includes it in his index of ancient 
British cities. In the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries its history 
becomes matter of ordinary record V 

So myths grow even in our own day. 

Twyne also manages to derive some help to his argument that 
Oxford was chosen as a Bishop's See and Cambridge not (p. 141); 

1 The book referred to is Cosmographia seu descriptio totius orbis. Per P. 
Apianum et Gemam Friscium. Antwerp, 1529; Paris, 1551. 

2 The work referred to is Ephemeridum opus ab anno 1556 usque in annum 
1606. Aug. Vindob, 1557. 

3 It is probable that Dr. Ingram did not take this direct from Twyne, but through 
some intermediate source. Possibly it was from Sir John Peshall's edition of Wood, 
who, however, by speaking of the author as Paul Appian (though his name was 
Peter), ought to have prevented any confusion between the German astronomer 
temp. Queen Elizabeth and the Greek historian who flourished a.d. 140 ; and 
should have suggested that the other was not the St. Cyprian who was martyred 
in a.d. 258. It is needless to say that neither of these writers has left behind 
a list of British cities. 


but it is difficult to follow him. Equally difficult, too, is the argument 
relating to British coins, being said by some chronicler to have been 
dug up at Abingdon (p. 142). It is here (p. 143) that he comes to 
the Asser controversy, and implies that Archbishop Parker possibly 
suppressed the passage, which was most likely not written till after 
the Archbishop had printed his book. Then he plunges into the 
question of Germanus and Gildas (p. 145), and contends that Iren 
mentioned in an obscure chronicle is not Ireland, but Icen, and so 
Oxford. He revels in Merlin's wild prophecy and the curious remark 
of Alexander Neckam, and finds a fulfilment in the University going to 
Stamford (of which, by-the-bye, he seems to accept the foundation as 
given by John Harding, viz. that it was due to the British King Bladud) ; 
the treatise on transmigration of learning, however, in connection with 
the prophecy, occupies several pages. 

During the lifetime of St. Frideswide, or certainly soon after, he 
brings John of Beverley 1 , Beda, and Alcuin to Oxford. His argument 
as to Beda is ingenious. Beda listened to Archbishop Theodore 
of Canterbury, Archbishop Theodore founded Greeklade, therefore 
Beda studied at Greeklade, and consequently Oxford can claim him, 
and not Cambridge. 

Of course much of his treatise is taken up with the Alfred contro- 
versy, and the several masters whom Alfred summoned, according to 
the story, which, as has been shown, first appears in the Hyde Abbey 
version of the myth. He has, of course, to combat the difficulty of 
Alfred being spoken of as the founder of Oxford, according to most of 
his authorities, on which he relies, for bringing Alfred to Oxford at all, 
and has to make out that they meant by a founder only a restorer. 

The above few notes may perhaps give some idea of the manner in 
which he treats the mythical history. The rest of the second book, 
together with the whole of the third, treats of times after the history of 
Oxford begins. 

After Twyne the next important writer upon Oxford who sup- 
ports the myths, is Antony a Wood. He follows in the wake of 
Twyne, adding nothing of any moment, but by omission and more 

1 Possibly John of Beverley was brought to Oxford simply on the ground that 
others were brought, namely that being men of note or learning at this period, it 
was thought that they must have been educated at Oxford. But it is curious that 
we find there was once actually a John of Beverley here, for ' Joannes de Beverlao 
Prior Oxoniae, et Baculaureus Theologiae,' was one of the compromissaries at the 
election of Robert Greystains by the chapter to the Bishopric of Durham in 1333. 
See Historiae Dunelmcnsis Scriptores Tres, Surtees Soc. 1839, P I2 °- And for 
the coincidence of the burial of John of Bury, and the election of Thomas Hatfield 
on St. John of Beverley's day, see p. 137. 


careful language he makes his stories run more smoothly. But he is 
evidently a firm believer in all Rous's inventions, and he still puts him 
in the forefront of the historians of the University of Oxford. 

In Hearne we have a second Twyne as regards credulity, but with- 
out his learning. He takes in everything, and here and there adds 
something of his own. Two examples may be given, perhaps, as char- 
acteristic. The story of Mempric, it will be remembered, as told by 
Geoffrey of Monmouth, and before Rous used it for engrafting on to 
it the story of the foundation of Oxford, ended with his being eaten up 
by wolves. Hearne finds corroborative evidence of this in Wolvercot 1 . 
He thinks it might have been written Wolves' cot, and two pages of 
dissertation about Wlfgar-coit-well, or Aristotle's well, and Walton, 
where he thinks the ancient walls of the city extended, follows on as a 
natural consequence. The other is this : He has found an instance 
of Busney, probably only in some later and badly spelt charter, but he 
thinks it substantiates the argument as to Oxford once being on the 
north : — 

' This place is called Buseneia in old books, and indeed, I take Busney 
to be righter than Binsey. Which if it will be allowed, it will confirm 
what is said in old story about Oxford's standing formerly more north- 
west than it does at present .... The first part therefore of Binsey, 
according to the old way of writing, must be the same with the Greek 
(3ovs, and the latter must be from the water 2 .' 

Next we have Dr. Ingram, who seems to follow Twyne, Wood, or 
Hearne indiscriminately, as regards the passages which he introduces 
into the Memorials of Oxford, respecting the mythical history of the 
town, or the story of Alfred's foundation; but he never seems for 
one moment to attempt to verify the authorities, on which their state- 
ments are supposed to rest, and no further evidence of his careless- 
ness in this respect is needed than that just given on a previous page. 

In the foregoing pages an attempt has been made to give the chief 
myths in the exact words of the writers, where they first occur, with a 
view as far as possible of suggesting the probable circumstances which 
led to their existence. To have followed these several myths through 
their variations as they appear in writers of the sixteenth century alone 
would have occupied a volume. To expose all the companion myths 
which have grown up since would be merely waste of time, and it has 
been thought sufficient to give a few specimens only from one or two 

1 Joannis Rossi Historia Oxonii, 1745. Editoris praefatio, p. vii. 

2 Gulielmi Neubrigensis Historia. Notae Thomae Hearnii. Oxon., 171 9, 
P- 758- 


writers of eminence. It is almost impossible to take up any book which 
touches on the early history of Oxford without discovering, if not the 
glaring myths themselves, at least their influence, in one way or another; 
and this in books of all kinds, from the great folios of the Acta 
Sanctorum, where the author of the article on St. Frideswide has filled 
whole columns with a recapitulation of the myths, to the little guide- 
book which is thrown away when done with. The Oxford University 
Calendar, too, in its account of University, still has ' The College 
of the Great Hall of the University is said to have been founded in 
the year 872 by Alfred the Great 1 / and always has had it. And it is 
not long ago that, on the occasion of the imaginary one thousandth 
anniversary of this foundation, those in high position in the Church and 
in the State joined together in a dinner to celebrate it 2 . But, as said 
before, such repetitions of a myth do harm, in that they obliterate the 
true history, and therefore it has been thought necessary to give several 
pages to an explanation of the circumstances under which the general 
reception of the myths has come about, before attempting to give any 
historical account of the rise of Oxford. 

1 The Oxford University Calendar for the year 1885. Oxford, at the Clarendon 

2 The dinner took place in University College, June 12, 1872 (the implied date 
agreeing with neither the Hyde Abbey Chronicle, nor that of Rous, &c). The 
Chancellor of the Exchequer (Rt. Hon. Robert Lowe) is reported to have said 
on that occasion : ' I have always made it a matter of principle to believe in 
King Alfred in connection with the College. I was told it was founded by 
him ; I read it in the University Calendar ; and I never heard any argument 
against it until I listened to the perfidious advocacy of the Dean of Westminster.' 
See Guardian Newspaper, June 19, 1872. 


The Site of Oxford during the British and 
Roman Settlement. 

The position which Oxford occupies is one which at first sight 
appears to offer great advantages for a settlement. It is situated on 
the bank of the chief river of the country, and at a point where that 
river is joined by a tributary which opens up a considerable district to 
the north ; added to which a thick bed of gravel exists at the spot, 
forming a promontory between a southern course of the Thames on 
the west, and that of the Cherwell on the right, and rising at its 
summit to some twenty-five feet above the meadow-land, amidst which 
the many streams of the divided Thames here find their way, and this 
is exceedingly suitable for dwellings. But, on the other hand, if we 
consider the circumstances which in all probability attracted British 
settlers, we shall find that they were wanting. For so important a 
river would naturally have formed a boundary line between the 
provinces into which we gather that Britain was divided, and thus 
rendered the dwellers on one side or the other liable to frequent 
hostile incursions. 

The probability is, judging from the scant remains found of 
anything betokening British occupation on the site of Oxford 1 , or 
in its immediate vicinity, that this promontory of gravel, which lay 
towards the eastern end of the southern boundary of the territory 
of the Dobuni, was not populated or marked by any settlement of 
importance. On the western side of the Thames, in the meadows 
beneath the shadow and shelter of the Wytham hills, a few graves 2 , 

1 The nine days' wonder of the ' British Village ' discovered on the site of the 
Angel Hotel, when digging for the foundations of the New Schools, created some 
stir, from the letters which appeared in the London papers. It was found to be 
only hollows where gravel had been excavated for ordinary purposes. See Oxford 
Times, Dec. 9th, 1876. Still, the gravel yielded pottery which might be of early 
date, and some earthenware spindle-whorls. In 1874 a single urn, apparently 
British, was discovered in digging foundations in Norham Gardens. Some bronze 
weapons of various kinds were found on the Wolvercot side of Port-meadow in 
1830 ; and a number of Paalstabs were said to have been found in Cowley Marsh in 
188 1. All the above are in the Ashmolean Museum. 

2 See Oxford Architectural and Historical Society's Proceedings, Mar. 1870, 

6 4 


with traces of pottery, betoken habitations possibly of British times. 
Further off to the north, and on the other side of the river, at rather 
more than a mile distance, and adjoining the village of Yarnton, a 
considerable extent of ground has been occupied by graves 1 , which, 
from the pottery and other circumstances, may well be thought to be 
those of the British race. But the dwellers on this side would probably 
have lived beneath the shelter of the hill which rises prominently 
between Yarnton and Bladon, and the top of which has distinct traces 
of a circular entrenched camp, not unlike many which are ascribed to 
British fortification 2 . To the east, again, but on the other side of the 
Cherwell, on Bullingdon Green, it is possible that of the many mounds 
which were there visible some forty years ago, before the land was 
brought under cultivation, some were burial mounds, for one, certainly 
has produced pottery of an early type, and with it human bones and 
burnt fragments, betokening that it was something more than the 
earth and sand turned out in the process of quarrying 4 . Although 
on Shotover Hill no traces of habitation or interments have been 
found, nor on the range of the Hincksey and Cumnor hills stretching 
round on the south and western side of Oxford, still from time to time 
flint weapons are found on the surface 4 , which may possibly betoken 
the presence of British settlers near. 

Again, there are no traces of any presence of the Romans during 
the period of the Roman invasion 5 , in what may be called the imme- 

vol. ii. p. 196. Also a brief note in the Appendix to Scientific Papers and Addresses, 
by Prof. Geo. Rolleston. Oxford, 1885. 

1 For the remains discovered in cutting the Witney railway line (which traverses 
the south-west corner of the field where appears to have been the cemetery), see 
a paper by W. B. Dawkins in the Proceedings of the O. A. & H. S., 1862, vol. i. 
p. 108, and Appendix to Papers and Addresses by Professor Rolleston. But of the 
original excavations, under the superintendence of the Rev. Vaughan Thomas, Vicar 
of Yarnton, no account seems to have been preserved. The most extensive dis- 
coveries of British remains in the neighbourhood were those at Brighthampton, 
8 miles S.W. of Oxford. See Archaeologia, vol. xxxvii, pp. 365-398. A model, &c, 
is in the Ashmolean Museum. 

2 Called ' Round Castle ' on the Survey Map, and referred to by Plot and Warton. 

3 The writer of this found the objects in question, c. i860, in a mound at the top 
of the road, on the left hand side leading up the hill, along the northern wall of 
what is now the riding-ground of the Military College. It would have been a 
prominent object from Cowley Marsh. It should be added, a singular piece of a 
bronze weapon was found at the same spot. 

4 A good polished flint implement was found by Professor Phillips in the clay- 
pits on Shotover Hill, May 21st, 1861. It is in the Ashmolean Museum. The 
writer has found specimens of the small rough arrow-point type on Cumnor Hill, &c. 

5 It is just possible that the lines of some trenches, which appear some distance 
in the way to Horsepath across Bullingdon, may belong to a camp ; though it 
would be dangerous to rely upon such as evidence. 



diate vicinity (such as camps and the like). Nor yet of the period of 
the Roman occupation, though of the latter there are very many traces 
at some distance from Oxford, and in every direction. 

It will be well first of all to say a few words about the Roman 
roads in this part of Britain 1 . The two great western lines of com- 
munication may be said to be drawn, as if purposely, to avoid the 
immediate neighbourhood of Oxford. The chief road, which starts 
due west from London and makes straight for Staines (the Pontes of 
the Itinerary), to which point it is clearly marked on the Ordnance 
Survey, continues its course (though here and there for some distance 
it is no longer to be traced) to Silchester {Calleva), the great Roman 
city of that southern province of the kingdom referred to as Britannia 
Prima' 1 . Thence, after a few miles, it reaches Speen (Spina), and 
here bifurcates, the lower road being continued due west to Bath, the 
upper road taking a north-westerly direction, straight across the Downs 
to Cirencester (Corinium). In the latter part of its course, as the 
Ordnance map shows, it is clearly to be traced, and goes by the name 
of the Ermyne Street. 

The northern road from London, namely the Watling Street, some 
little distance after it has passed St. Alban's (Verulamium), gives off 
a branch to the west, called the Akeman Street (so called from 
leading to the springs of Bath, sought after by sick people), which, 
tending for some distance in a north-westerly direction, reaches 
the neighbourhood of Bicester ; then crossing the sloping ground to 
the south of Middleton Stoney, takes a south-westerly direction, and, 
passing over the northern extremity of Blenheim Park and afterwards 
tending straight through the midst of Wychwood Forest, eventually 
meets the southern road at Cirencester 3 . 

These two western roads from London may be described as en- 

1 The evidence of the roads is chiefly based on the Antonine Itinerary ; but 
whether this belongs to the close of the second century, or to the third, or even to 
the beginning of the fourth, cannot be determined. It is probably an imperfect 
document, on the one hand, and has been interpolated, on the other. 

2 We do not find this title given to the southern part of Britain except by Sextus 
Rufus Festus and the Notitia utriusque Imperii, neither being before the fourth 
century. The probabilities are that it was not till the end of the third century that 
this division of Britain into Britannia Prima, Secunda, &c, took place. Then 
Calleva was built and the road made, and soon after the Antonine Itinerary drawn 
up including that road. 

3 At Cirencester is an important junction of five roads. Besides the two roads 
above mentioned, meeting here, another starts westward into Wales via Gloucester 
(Gtevum), while through it passed the great Fosse-way, uniting it directly with 
Lincoln {Lindum) and the country on the north-east, and with Bath {Aquae Sotis) 
and the neighbouring district on the south-west. 


closing a space on the map in the shape of a leaf, with London at one 
extremity and Cirencester at the other. The site of Oxford is in the 
midst, and, although considerably north of a line drawn from end to 
end, still is found to be at least eight miles from the nearest point at 
which the northernmost of the two roads passes. 

Nor is this all. When a junction road was made southward from the 
Akeman Street, at the point where the old camp exists, called Alchester 
(i.e. the Aid chester, near to Bicester), to the Thames, it was carried 
direct to Dorchester, passing some three miles east of the site of 
Oxford 1 . In all probability this and the last road were made late 
in the period of the Roman occupation, neither of them being named 
in the Itinerary of Antoninus, and it would therefore be highly im- 
probable that any Roman settlement of importance meanwhile could 
have taken place on or near the site of Oxford. 

Any one who looks at the Ordnance Survey will be struck by the 
very straight course of this line of road, which in many parts is so 
apparent as to be accurately drawn on the map by the surveyors. 
But more details will be found in the map attached to the late 
Professor Hussey's account of the road 2 . In this account he points 
out very many features in its course, most of which are now visible, 
though not so plain in all cases as they were in 1840 when he 
wrote the treatise. But Dr. Plot, writing in 1676, who credited the 
common stories about the antiquity of Oxford, thought the road ought 
to come to this city. So he writes as follows 3 : — 

1 The high road between Headington and Wheatley has at this distance been 
cut through it. The section can be clearly seen on the southern side. It has 
been more obscured on the northern side. In places just above Beckley the line of 
road is exceedingly plain. 

2 An Account of the Roman Road fro?n Allchester to Dorchester and other Roman 
Remains in the Neighbourhood. By the Rev. Robert Hussey, B.D. Oxford, 1841. , 
The so-called Itinerary of Richard of Cirencester, on which he relies as containing 
the list of places on this line of road, has been shown to be without doubt an 
impudent forgery of the seventeenth century by a writer named Bertram. He 
however deceived Stukeley, and every other antiquarian writer followed in the wake 
simply because Stukeley had endorsed it. 

3 The Natural History of Oxfordshire. By R[obert] P[lot], LL.D. Folio. 
Printed at the Theatre, Oxford, 1677. P. 318. 

* On his map he does not attempt to draw the line of the road, and has 
evidently not traced it further south than the immediate vicinity of Headington ; 
he thinks that it was more probably directed to Calleva. Since, by trusting to 
fanciful etymology instead of examining the country, he had with others guessed 
Calleva of the Antonine Itinerary to be Wallingford, instead of Silchester, and 
therefore considered that somehow it must have joined this line of road. In 
Prof. Hussey's map it will be seen that he is enabled to trace it direct into Dorchester, 
the lower part of the road having been made use of as a modern highway. 



' If it be asked why this way twixt Wallengford 4 and Alcester was 
laid so crooked ? it is plain, 'twas for the convenience of taking Oxford 
in the way as occasion should serve. For though I could not discover 
the diverticulum tending towards Oxford in the way from Wallengford, 
yet in the way from Alcester it remains at some places yet plain and 
evident . . . .' 

He then notes certain irregular cuttings in Toads, and one place 
where he says paving was found; and then he brings the road to 
Elsfield, and to a certain hollow way in Headington Hill (but this 
cannot now be traced, and his map affords no assistance). Out of 
this road, he proceeds to say that — 

' There seems also another way to have branched about the top of 
the hill which passing through the grounds twixt that and Marston 
lane where it is plain to be seen, by its pointing shews as if it once 
passed the river above Holy-well Church straight upon St. Giles, or the 
old Bellositum now Beaumont ; where about Thomas Rudburn in his 
Chronicon Hydense says, anciently before its restoration by Alfred, the 
University was seated "Quae Universitas Oxoniae quondam (says he 
having before discoursed of its restoration by JElfred) erat extra portam 
Borealem ejusdem urbis, et erat principalis ecclesia totius cleri, Ecclesia Sancti 
Aegidii extra eandem portam. Which two put together perhaps may 
make as much for the antiquity of this place as need be brought for it V 

The desire of bringing the road to Oxford naturally led Dr. Plot to 
interpret traces of old roads wherever he found them as belonging to 
one continuous Roman road. Professor Hussey, in 1840, examined 
carefully all that Dr. Plot had brought forward, as well as what 
Warton, in his ' Specimen,' had adduced. 

The argument turns chiefly upon the apparent marks of a road 
(now scarcely, if at all, visible) across the lower part of the grounds 
belonging to Mr. Morrell's mansion on Headington Hill, and it would 
appear as if once the road which came down from Shotover Hill past 
the Warneford Asylum, and now meets the main Headington road 
just after it begins to rise up Headington Hill, was originally continued 
across that road and joined the Marston Lane at rather more than a 
quarter of a mile's distance, near to the turn to King's Mill on the left 
and close by the old municipal boundary stone on the right. 

1 Plot's Oxfordshire, p. 318. It must be remembered that the historian Rudburn 
died early in 1442, and, as already pointed out, is of no authority. The Hyde 
Abbey Chronicle, as has been said, is probably much earlier than his date. Plot, 
however, suppresses the absurdity which is implied in the passage, namely, that 
the University was only moved back within the walls after 1354, i. e. after the 
colleges of University, Merton, Exeter, Oriel, and Queen's had been founded. He 
appears to make the passage say it was moved at the restoration by King Alfred, 
and this is not accurate. It is an example of how writers unscrupulously deal with 
passages which, when given entire, refute themselves. 

F 2 



The Shotover road, the lower part of which, next the Headington 
road, goes by the name of ' Cheyney Lane 1 / was once the chief high- 
way to London, and if the portion of road said to be traceable through 
Mr. Morrell's grounds, and the small portion supposed to be visible 
outside, on the left of the path going up to Joe Pullen's tree, and 
just before it joins the Marston Road, be Roman, then the irregular 
road up Shotover Hill is Roman also, and in fact that was held to be so. 
But the grounds on which such a theory is based are not forthcoming, 
except that Oxford, being supposed to be a Roman city, it was neces- 
sary to find a Roman road to it from London. 

With respect to the direction of the portion of road being towards 
Holywell Church, as Professor Hussey has observed, this is not the 
case, but it is considerably above it, and is directed to the point in the 
Cherwell where the streams divide. He concludes some other notes 
by saying, ' However, I can find no trace of it on any part of this 
ground V 

Warton seems to have taken Plot's note, and enlarged upon it. 
His words are here quoted from his ' Specimen of a History of 
Oxfordshire' : — 

' Another branch of the branches of the Akeman Street perceptibly 
slants from the brow of Shotover Hill, near Oxford, down its northern 
declivity ; bisects Marston Lane, crosses the Cherwell north of Holy- 
well Church, with a stone pavement, is there called King's Swath 
or Way, goes over S. Giles field and Port Meadow, has an apparent 
trajectus over the Isis, now called Binsey ford, being a few yards south 
of Medley grove, runs through Binsey churchyard, in which are the 
signatures of large buildings, winds up the hill towards the left, where 
stood the ancient village of Seek worth, and from thence proceeds to 
Gloucester, or falls into the Akeman Street about Witney V 
There is a boldness in sketching this outline which for the moment 
defies argument. If one inquires, ' Where are the traces ? ' the answer 
would be, ' They are obliterated' ; and as regards crossing of the streams, 
it would be answered, either the bridges were wooden and have 
perished, or their stonework has been taken away and used for other 
purposes. And there is no doubt that a road once deserted and the 
ground dug over leaves few, if any, vestiges behind. It might, too, be 
urged, in support of a prima facie acceptance of the theory, that there 

1 Said to be called so from the chain which once went across it, probably to bar 
it for toll as a turnpike ; but the evidence for the statement cannot be given. 

2 Hussey's Roman Road, p. 43. 

3 A Specimen of the History of Oxfordshire, being the History and Antiquities 
of Kiddington. By the Rev. Thomas Warton, B.D. 2nd ed., 4^0. London, 1783, 
P- 57- 



was in all probability some communication by road between Binsey 
and the northern end of Oxford before the ' Botley Causey ' was made 
passable as a carriageway, and perhaps that such communication was 
over the ford. And it might even be urged that when Binsey Church 
was once held in much estimation for pilgrimages, the roads about here 
would be more frequented than when such pilgrhnages ceased. 

Yet, much as this may be true, it does not afford any argument 
whatever for the imaginary long line of road supposed to start from 
Alchester, and cross the northern part of Oxford, and join the Akeman 
Street again, or go direct to Gloucester. It may be well also here to 
quote the cautious words of Professor Hussey on this point : — 

' If the chief ford at Oxford, that from which the name was origin- 
ally derived, was that by Binsey which passes out of Port meadow a 
little above Medley lock, there might have been a road from Marston 
lane across St. Giles's field and Port meadow to it, passing quite to 
the north of the present town of Oxford. Or there might possibly 
have been a road in that line to serve as a way to the holy spring at 
Binsey, or to the neighbouring village of Seckworth : but these are 
mere conjectures at present. If there had been any evidence of such 
a road in Plot's time, it is likely that he would have noticed it V 
In respect of a road west of Binsey traces really exist, though they 
are no longer to be seen on the surface. It went across the meadows 
in a south-westerly direction to Seckworth, or Seacourt. which lay on 
the Wytham Road, and was originally made, no doubt, in consequence 
of the existence of a population at Seckworth ; and since the buildings 
there were destroyed (a few uneven hollows by the side of the road 
being all that remains by which to identify the spot) it has become 
obsolete. Beneath the fields in places the stones can be found by 
probing, and in the stream stones are still to be seen where the bridge 
is supposed to have crossed it. There is no reason, however, to asso- 
ciate this road with the British or Roman period, although it is quite 
possible that an important road in very early times skirting the southern 
bank of the Thames valley crossed over the lower portion of the 
northern slopes of the Wytham hill, and might well have afforded an 
approach to Oxford in this direction. 

As a matter of fact it is dangerous to assign any small portions of 
road to any specific date, and the presence of a paved road is no 
evidence as to period, when we find it going over soft meadow-land, 
since it must be paved in some way to be a road at all ; while the 
character of any kind of paving must depend more upon the 
material available than the age at which it was constructed. 

1 Hussey 's Roman Road, p. 44. 


That there were roads of some kind in times preceding the Roman 
invasion, and perhaps some made during that period, may well be 
allowed ; and perhaps, before leaving this subject, the great Icknield 
way (in some parts called the Ridge way) should be referred to. This 
is carried along the top of the Berkshire range of hills — connected at 
one end with a similar road, traceable in places across the Marl- 
borough Downs ; at the other, traceable quite distinctly along the lower 
ridge of the Chiltern Hills of Buckinghamshire. It is well within the 
area already referred to of the leaf-like shape. Though, from the cir- 
cumstance of it affording communication between the great British 
fortresses along that line, the period of its construction may be rea- 
sonably ascribed to British times, it may well have been used by the 
Romans, and continued in use by the Saxons, as it is in use now. At 
its nearest point, however, it is fully fourteen miles from the site of 
Oxford. Beneath the same line of hills will be observed another road, 
passing from Harwell through Wantage as far as Sparsholt, and 
marked on the map as the Port-way 1 , which has been assigned to Roman 
times, but without sufficient evidence. Further to the east a small 
portion of road is marked as the Ickleton way. But in all probability 
the name is but a later reading of Icknield, and has been applied 
without authority to this part of a lower road on the supposition that 
it was a different name. Some of the roads too in Berkshire are re- 
ferred to in the boundaries given in the Saxon Charters as here-paths, 
that is, military roads, which in all probability were found to be such 
when our forefathers came here and gave this name to them ; but, even 
where identification is satisfactory, they seem to throw no light upon 
any British or Roman occupation in the immediate vicinity of 

When we consider the records which we possess of Roman times in 
the pages of chroniclers, whose work may be depended upon, we see 
how little reason there is to suppose that the district around Oxford 
played any part in the history of those times. It is true Ox- 
ford is situated on the Thames, and the Thames is named in con- 
nection with the earliest event recorded in the history of this country, 
but the place where Julius Caesar crossed that river could not at most 
have been far from London. Of course there have been several 

1 The word ' port ' is an English word signifying a town — e. g. a Port-reeve 
(distinguished from the Shire-reeve, or sheriff), the Port-meadow, &c. — and probably 
has in this case no direct connection either with the Latin porta or portus ; and the 
derivation of the word is the only reason, it is believed, why the name has been 
thought to mark a Roman road. 



claims made for places marking the spot, and amongst them one 
even as far west as Wallingford, though the evidence is far from 
satisfactory 1 . 

The invasion of a century or so later — namely that under Claudius 
(a.d. 47) — may be said to have probably brought the Roman arms as 
far as this district, if not farther. It must be remembered that we 
are dependent for our narrative upon a Greek historian of the early 
part of the third century, but who professes to have followed Tacitus, 
whose books relating to the history of that period are lost. Several 
attempts have been made to construct a story of the campaign from 
the few isolated circumstances recorded; but one feature stands out 
prominently; the Roman general Aulus Plautius made peace (and 
a treaty is implied) with the Dobuni. Now there can be little question 
that the site of Oxford was within their territory, — indeed some map- 
makers make the River Cherwell for some distance the boundary line 
separating them from the Catuvelauni 2 on the east, — and if so, the site 
of Oxford would be at the very south-eastern corner of their territory, 
and the first to be reached by any stranger coming up the Thames. 
This however does not appear so natural a boundary as the river Thame 
and the Chiltern hills beyond, some twelve miles to the east of Oxford. 

However this may be, Ptolemy in his geography (the date may be 
a.d. 120) gives only one city as belonging to the Dobounoi (or Bodount 
according to the spelling adopted in Dion Cassius), and that is 
Corinium or Cirencester, a city which seems to have kept up its 
importance during the Roman invasion, and up to the time of the 
Roman occupation, as we have seen from the circumstances of five 
important lines of road meeting at the point. An English city event- 
ually grew up upon the site of the Roman city which may possibly 
have included even the original Roman camp 3 . 

1 In the Archaeological Journal, 1866 (vol. xxiii. p. 159), in a paper by Dr. Guest, 
the ' Coway stakes,' near Walton-on-Thames, are contended for. The great diffi- 
culty lies in this, that in Caesar's Commentaries, while several lines are given to 
each day's proceedings in Kent itself, hardly as many words are supposed to include 
the whole account of a long campaign westward, and then across the Thames, and 
then back. 

2 Catuwellani of Dion Cassius, but Catyeuchlani of Ptolemy. Identification has 
been suggested between the first name and the 'fines CassivelaunV of Caesar's 

3 The name is, in substance, British, and is derived from the river bearing the 
name of Churn or Cern, which gives a name to other places on its bank. The 
first letter in both cases was sounded hard, like K, and the introduction of the 
Ch in spelling the name of the river and that of places, as in Cherney, Sec, was 
possibly for the purpose of giving it this hard sound. The Romans, when they 



Here, in all probability, where the Roman head-quarters were fixed 1 , 
all was done, that was done in the way of treaty, between the British 
King and the Roman General, and it is very possible that the camp 
here was the first important Roman station established, and being 
practically at the head of the chief river in the kingdom, was therefore 
the beginning of the subjugation of the country. And if further we 
take the view that Aulus Plautius had subdued the line of British 
fortresses on the Berkshire downs on his way westward, it is probable 
that on his return he brought the north bank of the Thames, and so 
the site of Oxford, under his control. Whether that invasion or not 
was the origin of the great camp at Dorchester 2 , is purely a matter of 

Latinised it as Corinium, must have heard it pronounced like Korn. The Saxons 
must have caught the sound of Kirn to have made Ciren-eeaster. We have 
softened the C in Cirencester, and, leaving out all the rest of the etymological 
element, called it Cicester, whilst in Churn and Cherney we give a totally different 
sound to the first letter. 

1 Another argument is sometimes adduced in favour of Cirencester being the 
place of treaty, namely, that King Alfred had met with some tradition of the kind, 
since in his translation of Orosius, and in one of those places where he writes his 
history independently of his author, he has the following passage (a. u. c. 667) : 

' When he [Caesar] had overcome them, he went into the island Britain, and 
fought against the Britons, and was routed in the land which is called Kentland. 
Soon afterwards he fought again with the Britons in Kentland, and they were 
routed. Their third battle was near the river which is called Thames, near 
the ford called Wallingford. After that battle the king came into his hands, 
and the townspeople that were in Cirencester, and afterwards all that were in the 

It has been assumed that King Alfred has in some way here joined together the 
campaign of Aulus Plautius with the two campaigns of Caesar. Orosius is almost 
silent on this third campaign, and it does not appear that Alfred was acquainted 
with Dion Cassius. It is highly improbable that any local traditions connecting the 
two places of Cirencester and Wallingford with the campaigns could have survived 
more than 800 years ; nor could there have survived any British history, or Gildas, 
Beda. &c, would have become acquainted with it, and it would have been named. 
On the whole it would appear that Alfred understands Caesar's second descent 
upon Britain to have been divided into two parts : the first, the fighting in the 
territory of the Cantii, the second, the march to the Thames ; and this is in accord- 
ance with Orosius, i. e. ' Primo congressu, Labienus occisus .... secundo prelio 
Britannos in fugam vertit. Inde ad fiumen Tamesim profectus .... Interea Trino- 
bantium firmissima civitas sese dedidit.' The chief ford in the Thames he knew of 
was Wallingford, not far from the place of his birth; and the chief Roman city he 
knew of was Cirencester, which was in his own dominion (Silchester had then long 
been devastated), and therefore he put them down in accordance with a custom not 
uncommon with makers of histories. In other words, he does not here recount the 
Claudian campaign at all. It is of course worthless also as an argument, to 
bring Caesar into the Oxford district. See however Guest's paper in the Archaeo- 
logical Journal, vol. xxiii. p. 177. 

2 During the last few years a large portion of these fine earthworks were delibe- 
rately removed by the owner of the land. See Proceedings of the Oxford Arch, 
and Hist. Soc, 1870, vol. ii. p. 224. 



speculation. It was a place where nature had done much by the bend 
of the river, so that there was little required from art. It would have 
kept in check the great stronghold of Sinodun in case it should have 
been afterwards occupied by the Atrebatii ; it would have prevented the 
incursions of the Catuvellauni — if as has been suggested they occupied 
the Chiltern Hills, and the river Thame was the boundary line of 
their territory ; and more than all, it would have kept the passage of the 
Thames open to the Roman arms and closed against their enemies. 
As to the exact locality of the chief battle of the campaign different 
views may be held, and must not be here discussed 1 . 

During the three next centuries, though Britain is frequently referred 
to by the classical writers, no events seem to be capable in any way of 
association with this district. The Roman arms seem to have been 
directed to those border lands of the hill country of Britain, namely, 
what was afterwards known as Wales and Scotland. The successor 
of Aulus Plautius carries the Roman arms to the Silures in the far 
west (a.d. 50), and the forts of the Nen and the Severn become his- 
torical. Boadicea revolts in the far east (a.d. 61), and Verulam and 
Camulodunum are particularly named. Agricola's campaign in the 
far north (a.d. 81) reaches to the forts erected between the Friths of 
Clyde and Forth. In the next century, Hadrian builds the second 
Wall in the north (a.d. 121) and Lollius Urbicus unites Agricola's forts 
by a continuous vallum (a.d. 139). The revolts of the remainder of 
the century are recounted, without the name of a single place being 
recorded. In the third century, when the period of occupation may 
be said to commence, only political history is recorded ; and in the 
record of the intrigues and assassinations of Roman governors and 
generals, which universally marked the Roman rule at this period, 
only one single city stands out prominently, namely, York — 
where Constantine was born (a.d. 274), and where, on his father's 
death (a.d, 307), he was proclaimed Emperor. In the fourth century 
it is much the same, and we look in vain for names of places where 
the events recorded occur. Here and there incidentally Verulam and 
London are mentioned, the former especially in ecclesiastical history 
in connection with the story of S. Alban. But scarcely another city in 
this part of Britain — not even the great Calleva (Silchester), the central 
city of the south, to which all the roads tended, nor Dorchester, finds a 
single mention in any of the Roman historians and poets of this period, 

1 See Dr. Guest's paper in the Archaeological Journal, 1866, vol. xxiii. p. 159, 
in favour of Wallingford, and the paper in the Oxford Arch, and Hist. Soc. Pro- 
ceedings, 1868, vol. ii. p. 90, in favour of Dorchester. 



of which nearly one hundred may be reckoned who mention or describe 
Britain and whose works have in whole or in part come down to us 1 . 

The chronicle, however, of the Roman occupation may be said per- 
haps to be best read in the soil, namely, in the frequency of the traces 
of a Roman villa ; in these the foundations were of stone, and the 
hypocaust or heating apparatus, composed as a rule of layers of 
Roman tiles, was constructed beneath the chief chambers, and in some 
cases beneath a bath room, so that the identification cannot well be 
missed ; apart from the fact that on excavating they are found almost 
invariably to be accompanied by accumulations containing fragments 
of Roman pottery of various descriptions, by Roman coins, and by the 
oyster shells ; indeed the persistent presence of the vestiges of these 
last is most remarkable. 

Now the district to the north and south of Oxford seems to be as 
rich as most districts in such remains, but in Oxford itself scarcely any 
have been discovered 2 . 

Dorchester, the nearest Roman city, and the southern terminus of 
one of the roads already described, has been a constant quarry for 
Roman remains, but only one or two tesselated pavements are known 
now to exist in silu, and these are preserved simply because they are 
buried. It has been too a storehouse for coin collectors, but the fields 
now seem to be getting somewhat exhausted 3 . And though with the 

1 Such documents as the Antonine Itinerary, the geographical lists of Ptolemy, 
and the Notitia, are of course not included; and to lists of this kind may be added 
the geography by the anonymous writer at Ravenna in the seventh century, and no 
doubt based upon earlier lists. It may suffice to say that, as regards these lists, 
out of some 300 names there is not one which can with any reason at all be 
assigned to any place in the vicinity of Oxford nearer than the southern Roman 
road referred to above, passing through Calleva and Spinae (Silchester and 

2 The following should be noted, though hardly to be counted as exceptions. 
Skelton, in a note (Bullingdon H., p. 3), says, ' I have found Roman money and 
other relics in the gravel-pit opposite the Horse and Jockey Inn'- — i.e. in the ground 
where now the Convent of the Holy Trinity has been erected. Also in Norham 
Gardens, in digging foundations, c. 1861, a single skeleton and some metal weapons 
were found. But such cases of solitary burial tell nothing ; and it was not, so far 
as is remembered, determined whether the burial belonged to a Briton, Roman, or 

3 There were collectors in Leland's time. ' In the closes and feeldes that lye 
southly on the Town that now standeth, be found Numismata Romanorum of gold, 
silver, and brass.' The Roman remains of burial found in the Vicar's garden ; the 
' cochlearia,' or snail spoons, discovered by Mr. Clutterbuck hidden in the dykes ; 
the British shields and other weapons in the gravel of the Thames hard by the 
camp ; and since then many other remains, including flint implements — all these 
discoveries, coupled with the establishment of the Bishopric in the early part of 
the seventh century, and the abbey in the twelfth century, prove the continuity of 



exception of some coins being dug up in 1796 at Baldon 1 , the line of the 
road northward seems to be singularly free from any traces of Roman 
remains for some distance, yet when we reach the neighbourhood of 
Wheatley, the traces of Roman occupation seem to be tolerably 

The possibility of there having been a camp on Bullingdon Green 
has been already referred to. In 1879, a tittle to the south-east of 
Littlemore, and during the works on the City Sewage farm close to the 
Mynchery, were discovered Roman pottery works. That which was 
left consisted mainly of broken or imperfect specimens. No villa was 
discovered, but the skeleton of a man was found buried beneath the 
debris, amidst the blackened substance from the furnaces (two of 
which were seen in situ), and was thought to be one of the workmen. 
As it was only half a mile off the Roman road in question, it was no 
doubt a manufactory, but the very few marks on any of the pottery 
were not sufficient to connect the manufactures with any period 2 . 

Further on, and some little distance off to the north-east, upon the 
high ground, a very fine Roman villa was discovered, Oct. 31, 1845, 
and the excavations being continued by the Bishop of Oxford, Dr. 
Buckland, Dr. Bromet, and Mr. J. H. Parker, a very perfect hypocaust 
and bath chamber above, with the bath and even the lead pipe 
remaining, were discovered 3 . All, however, have been since destroyed, 
and it is even difficult to discover the spot. The glass vessels found in 
the carriage drive within the grounds of the Palace at Cuddesdon, might 
be assigned to the Roman period, were it not for the objects found 
with them, but at Holton, close by, a glass vase undoubtedly Roman 
was found 4 . In a field between Shotover and Wheatley remains of 
Roman mortars are found, as if once there had been a manufactory near. 

Some distance off to the west, and therefore perhaps representing 

the occupation of the city from the earliest times, through those of the Roman as 
well as the Saxon, down to our own. 

1 Hussey, Roman Road, p. 41. The coins were, Claudius Gothicus, c. 270; 
Constantine, 306-337 ; Magnentius, 350-353. 

2 The Oxford Arch, and Hist. Society visited the spot, 1862; Proceedings, 
vol. iii. p. 304. But no full account of the discovery was published by the late 
Dr. Rolleston, under whose superintendence the excavations took place ; only a brief 
note appears in the Appendix to the ' Remains,' Oxford, 1885. 

3 See a full account, with engravings, in the Archaeological Journal (1845, vol. ii. 
p. 350). The coins discovered were, Maximianus, 292-311 ; Salonina, 260 ; Con- 
stantinus, 306-337; Gratianus, 375-383. 

* Arch. Journal, 1847, vol. iv. pp. 157 and 74. A hoard of coins was discovered, 
560 in number, on the Shotover side of Wheatley in 1842. They were given up to 
the proprietor, G. V. Drury, Esq. ; but whether an account of these exists has not 
been ascertained. Ibid. iii. p. 125. 

7 6 


the nearest point of all to Oxford where Roman remains have been 
found, there were discovered at Wood-Eaton 1 , c. 1802, traces of what 
appeared to be a Roman settlement of some extent. No outline of a 
camp can now be traced, nor are the remains sufficient to mark the 
actual site of the villa, but Roman brick is continually turned up by the 
plough, and large quantities of pottery, broken portions of armour, and 
weapons, heads of spears, arrows, Roman fibulae, and a plentiful 
supply of Roman coins dating back to Trajan and Nero, but the 
majority much later, mark the spot as once occupied by Roman men 
of wealth and influence. The position was on the rising ground 
overlooking the valley of the Cherwell. Possibly on the other bank of 
the Cherwell by Kidlington, there was another small station, since 
Roman remains have been found in a field a little to the north-west 
of the village 2 . 

Again, about two miles off, to the west of the road in the grounds of 
Oddington Parsonage, in 1824, some interments of men with traces of 
armour were found, and as the ground from this point for some dis- 
tance in the direction of Charlton was strewed with debris of Roman 
pottery, the remains were associated, whether rightly or wrongly, with 
R.oman times 3 . A little way off the line of the road, to the east of 
Waterperry, a considerable quantity of Roman remains were discovered 
in 1845, an d described by a former President of Trinity College, Dr. 
Wilson 4 . 

But still closer to the road, in the year 1862, were discovered, in 
a field just above Beckley, in a south-easterly direction, the distinct re- 
mains of a Roman villa. The part uncovered consisted of four cham- 
bers, but the walls were carried further. Three of the chambers were 
paved with tesselated pavement, but only of ordinary square patterns. 
The pottery, tiles, and the other circumstances (the presence of the 
oyster shells included), left no doubt of it being a typical Roman 
villa, though the excavations did not lay bare any hypocaust 5 . A little 

1 See Hussey, Roman Road, p. 37. Since that time many more Roman remains 
have been collected from this neighbourhood by Arthur J. Evans, M.A., Keeper of 
the Ashmolean Museum, amongst others a very interesting bronze statuette. 

2 A small Roman urn of good shape, found in process of quarrying, c. i860, 
is in the writer's possession. 

3 Skelton's Oxfordshire, Ploughley Hundred, p. 7. 

4 Archaeological Journal, 1 846, vol. iii. p. 116. The coins found were of Claudius 
Gothicus, Maximus, and Constantine, with the addition of two earlier coins of 
Domitian and Hadrian. Dr. Wilson refers (p. 123) to the excavations which pro- 
duced Samian ware, &c, on the hill opposite, about a mile distant. Several 
specimens from these excavations are preserved in the Ashmolean Museum. 

5 Described, Oxford Arch, and Hist. Soc. Proceedings, 1862, New Series, vol. i. 
p. 186. 



further on, at the hamlet of Fencott 1 , a quantity of Roman pottery was 
found. It was where the clay was admirably suited to the purpose, as 
was shown by experience, it being the best in the neighbourhood, and 
the manufactory must have been a formidable rival to that at Little- 
more. At Alchester itself, which is a little further on, where the road 
joins the Akeman street, quantities of Roman relics have been dis- 
covered. From the excavations made in 1766, one spot was found to 
be the site of a villa, but in several places quantities of tiles, pottery, 
coins, &c, had been found 2 . 

But the most prolific district for Roman remains in the neighbour- 
hood of Oxford, is some distance to the westward near to Stonesfield, 
through which the Akeman street passes. The Roman camp lay a 
little to the north of this road ; but close to it, and in the parish of 
Stonesfield, there was discovered, in 171 2, a fine Roman villa with 
a tesselated pavement, the account of which was published in 17 13. 
Again, in 1812, further excavations were made here, and in the same 
year another Roman villa was discovered on the south bank of the Even- 
lode, its situation remarkably resembling the description of Pliny's Villa; 
the court, and some fifty chambers or more, surrounding it were all care- 
fully traced and planned. The chief chamber with the hypocaust and 
flues, are still remaining, with the greater part of a fine large tesselated 
pavement in situ, and much of the foundation of the other chambers 
can be traced. This is known as the Northleigh Villa; the Stones- 
field Villa was unfortunately entirely obliterated 3 . 

1 Hussey, p. 34. One fragment is stamped with the letters Jure Uro ; but 
whether this stamp has been observed on pottery found in any of the villas has not 
been ascertained. 

2 A MS. account of Alchester came into the hands of Dr. Kennett, written 
1622, of which he prints a considerable portion {Parochial Antiquities, New Ed., 
Oxon., 181 8, p. 10). The following is an extract: 'In the forefront of Allchester, 
Allectus for his better defence built a sconce or watch tower . . . where in our days 
has been digged up much Roman money, brick and tile, and pavement of curious 
and wrought tile of the bigness of sixpence being delicately laid there.' In further 
excavations in the Spring of 1766 (See Dunkin's History of Bicester, London, 1816, 
p. 195), they found beneath the debris a court covered with fine gravel ; then they 
reached a wall, of which 3 feet was standing, which they followed for 30 feet ; 
then inside the building a Roman pavement, and beneath this a Roman hypocaust. 
It is needless to add that all the guesses about Alauna and Allectus arise from 
interpretation of the name, Al- Chester. Bertram's forgery of the Itinerary of 
Richard of Cirencester was first published at Copenhagen in 1758; in this he impu- 
dently turned the Old Chester into Aelia Castra, and set Stukeley and a number of 
antiquaries, who followed him, disputing about the part which this city played in 
the history of the Roman occupation in the third century. 

3 A very good account of the Northleigh villa, with plan, section, and map, 
is given in Skelton's Oxfordshire (Wootton H., pp. 9 to 15). The original drawings 
were sent to the Society of Antiquaries, but there does not appear to be any notice 



If next we look at the southern side of the Thames, the evidence of 
Roman occupation is scattered much in the same way, but again it 
does not seem to reach to the immediate neighbourhood cf Oxford. 
One solitary coin, or a piece of pottery supposed to be Roman, is 
occasionally picked up, but there are few districts, if any, in the 
kingdom, where this is not the case. The nearest spot where any- 
thing like a number of Romain remains have been found is the Frilford 
cemetery, about six miles to the south-west. The Roman leaden 
coffins, and in one the coins which had been lodged in the mouth 
to pay the passage (as the verdigris on the lower jaw belonging to the 
perfect skeleton testified), were sufficient evidence of the occupation 
here of some Roman of importance. And although the coins are 
numerous, and the pottery in abundance, and here and there portions 
of Roman tile, no walls of a Roman villa have been found 1 . But 
westward, about one mile and a half, an undoubted Roman villa of some 
six or eight chambers was discovered, in 1883, beneath one of which 
was a somewhat unusual hypocaust, and sufficient remains of tesserae 
to show that there had at one time been a fine tesselated pavement 2 . 
About 1870 the remains of what appeared to be a Roman villa were 
found about a mile and a half due west of Wantage. In 1884 another 
Roman villa was discovered beneath the White Horse Hill at Wool- 
stone, in which one wall, by the side of a passage paved with tesserae, 
was over a hundred feet in length, and two fine tesselated pavements, 
with patterns, were found to exist. Burials too had taken place within 
the inhabited area 3 . 

of them in the Archaeologia. The Oxford Arch, and Hist. Society visited the villa 
in 1872 (Proceedings, vol. iii. p. 37), and it is due to their exertions that probably 
the remains have been preserved, and that it has not followed the fate of the 
Stonesfield villa (see vol. ii. p. 346). With respect to this latter villa, four 
drawings of the pavement as it was when discovered are preserved in the Ash- 
niolean Museum, and the pavement, being one of the finest known, was engraved 
as the frontispiece to one of the volumes of Pitisco's Lexicon Antiquitatum 
Romanorum, Venice, 171 9. There are also other engravings found in various 
works. Hearne also has prefixed a ' Discourse concerning the Stonesfield Tesse- 
lated Pavement,' to the 8th volume of his edition of Leland's Itinerary, Oxford, 

1 The excavations were, by the kindness of the owner, Mr. Aldworth, first 
carried on under the direction of Mr. Akerman, in 1865, and afterwards much more 
vigorously and scientifically by the late Dr. Rolleston, during 1867 and 1868. 
Some notices appeared in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, but a full 
account, from the pen of Dr. Rolleston, will be found in the Archaeologia for 1870, 
vol. xlii. pp. 417-485. 

2 The excavations were conducted under the direction of Professor Moseley and 
Arthur J. Evans, Esq. The latter communicated a full account to the Ashmolean 
Society in Michaelmas Term, 1883. 

3 Visited by the Oxford Architectural and Historical Society in June 1884. 



The probability is that these represent the houses of the Roman 
settlers, which were deserted when the Romans left, and were not 
continued in occupation, as was the case in towns like Dorchester, 
Cirencester, &c. And in some instances, the invading Northmen of 
the fifth and sixth centuries might have treated what they found left 
here much in the way in which they appear to have treated 

By a survey such as this, we see that the site of Oxford, having no 
traces of Roman occupation, and isolated as it were by the chief roads 
ascribed to the Romans, cannot in any way be said to carry its history 
back to Roman times. But its neighbourhood seems to have been 
occupied, and to present numerous traces of such occupation, rather 
above than below the average of the country generally ; yet at the 
same time no event seems to have occurred which has caused the 
district to be mentioned in the pages of the historians of those days. 


The Site of Oxford during the Saxon Settlement 
to the close of the Seventh Century. 

And now, having given some account of what may be gleaned of 
the Roman occupation of the Oxford district from the general aspect 
of the country, from the roads, from the few records we possess, and 
from the remains of habitation, we come to the period of the arrival 
of the Northern hordes, and a few words perhaps may be said with 
respect to the manner in which the invasion affected the same district. 

After their landing in a.d. 519, the march of Cerdic and Cynric, 
and of their followers, the founders of the kingdom of the West 
Saxons, was naturally in a northerly direction. They evidently 
reached the Thames, and they or rather their successors crossed it. 
But their progress was slow. So late as a.d. 552 — that is, more than 
thirty years after their first landing — they are recorded to be fighting 
at the burh of Old Sarum ; and in a.d. 556, according to the chron- 
icles, at Beran-burh (i. e. the burh of Ber or Bera), probably one of 
those great fortresses on the northern edge of the Wiltshire downs, 
still bearing on the map the name of Barbury. This would place the 
land of the Thames valley south of Oxford at their mercy; and 
having reached this point not only of their invasion, but it may be said 
of colonisation, they would not have been long before they crossed 
over to the fertile fields on the other side also. In Kent another race, 
from their own northern clime, held sway, and it would appear that 
a few years later, the West Saxons under Ceawlin and Cutha had, by 
becoming masters of the Thames River, endangered the safety of the 
dwellers in Kent and its neighbouring district of Essex ; for we find 
that in a.d. 568, King ^Ethelbert, the Kentish king, is driven back into 
Kent after fighting at Wibbandun, which must be Wimbledon in 
Surrey, up to which point on the east the West Saxons had in the 
year 571 advanced along the line of the river Thames. 

The year 571 was a year of great successes, or else beneath this 
year the chronicler has gathered together the successes which seem 
finally to have completely crushed whatever British power remained 


in these parts. Of the five places, namely where battles were then 
fought, and the Saxons became the conquerors, two more closely 
touch the immediate neighbourhood of Oxford ; and their identification 
is perhaps more sure than the others, viz. the two last on the list, 
Ensham and Benson. The Chronicle under the year runs thus : — 

'a. 571. This year Cuthwulf fought agaifist the Bret-walas at 
Bedcanford, and took four towns, Lygean-burh and iEgeles-burh and 
Baenesing-tun and Egones-ham. And the same year he died V 

That Egones-ham 2 is the modern Ensham, cannot well be doubted. 
The distance up the Thames from the site of Oxford would, allowing 
for the curve, be about five miles, and it will be observed it lies, though 
on the other side of the river, beneath the high ground of the Wytham 
Hills, the western extremity of which, forming a sort of large knoll and 
plainly visible from the road up the Cumnor Hill, would have been 
a suitable place for a fortress 3 , which would have to be taken before 
they could expel the Britons from the Hill which they were probably 
occupying. The name of the place Ensham is given to the battle by 
the chronicler, because there was no other English settlement nearer 
at the time he wrote his chronicle. It is much the same with Benson. 
The village on the river bank bearing the Saxon name is of little or 
no importance, but the range of the Chiltern Hills rising above it 
afforded many places in which the Britons could defend themselves 
in the neighbourhood of Nettlebed ; and the West Saxons would have 
to make themselves masters of that range before they could expel the 
Britons from their strongholds. Between Benson and Wytham, on the 
northern bank of the Thames, there are no hills of great importance, 
Shotover being the chief ; but as the Britons after so many years' fight- 
ing with their invaders, were not likely to have had force enough to 
occupy a lesser range between the two others, we do not hear of this 
hill under any name by which the capture might be recorded. 
Practically we may reckon that in this year, a.d. 571, the district lying 
between Benson and Ensham, the site of Oxford included, became 
absolutely subject to the West Saxons. 

The successes at Lygeanburh and JEglesburh do not concern us 
so much, excepting that they show the extraordinary progress the 
West Saxons were now making. As in taking Benson they had 
become masters of the southern end of the Chiltern Hills, so in taking 

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sub anno. Appendix A, § 24. 

2 In the earliest charters belonging to the great Abbey, afterwards established 
there early in the eleventh century, the name is spelt Egnesham. 

3 Although there are no actual lines of entrenchment visible, some of the 
scarping may have been done with a view of repelling assault. 



Aylesbury they must have become masters of the northern end. That 
Aylesbury is the place named by the chronicler to describe the victory 
is probably due to the fact that it lies on the Akeman Street, which no 
doubt afforded as great facilities to the Saxons in subduing the kingdom 
as it had to the Romans in keeping the kingdom in subjection. Look- 
ing at the extent of their victories as a whole, it would appear that by 
thus obtaining this range of hills they had practically made themselves 
masters of the whole of the district of the Dobuni, and threatened 
the district of the Catuvellauni, and more especially so if we accept 
the other victory as that of Lenborough, a name which still survives 
for the high land above Buckingham 1 , and the occupation of which 
would probably have given them command of the Ouse. If they 
marched down this valley, they would reach Bedford, which, though 
in no other instance spelt Bedcanford, is no doubt the place meant. 
Whether they succeeded in carrying their arms so far, or whether the 
Mid Angles, or any other power, barred their further progress, is not 

But while their success was first to the east of the Oxford district, 
we find that six years later the Chronicle speaks with no uncertain 
sound of their having taken three cities from three British kings in the 
far west, namely, Gleawan-ceaster, Ciren-ceaster, and Bathan-ceaster, 
as to the identification of which there can be no doubt. Without 
discussing the position of one or two other places named, we see how 
the whole of this district north of the Thames, stretching from the 
Chiltern Hills on the east, and to the Severn on the west, was gradually 
brought under the subjection of the West Saxon kings and made into 
the great kingdom of Wessex ; and it gives an idea of the vastness of 
the territory acquired to read, a few years later, in the Chronicle, in the 
description of the accession of Ceolwulf (a.d. 597) to the West Saxon 
kingdom, that he 1 fought and contended incessantly against the Angles 
or the Welsh, or the Picts or the Scots.' 

The Oxford district was now therefore, at the close of the sixth 
century, in the centre of the vast kingdom of the West Saxons ; 
bounded on the south by the sea ; on the west by Wales ; on the 
east by the kingdom of the East Angles, the East Saxons, and the 
South Saxons ; and finally on the north by the Northumbrian kingdom. 

1 It must not be overlooked that the name L) r gean is used elsewhere for the river 
Lee, which runs by Hertford. If we take this to be the first part of the name, we 
must look to the high ground near its source above Luton. There happens to be 
Limbury still marked on the map. If this is the place it meant, they had carried 
their victories up to the borders of Hertfordshire. 



It was from the last-named of these probably that the first great 
check was received to their arms, or earlier in their history they would 
have absorbed all parts of the island; the events, however, of the 
early years of the seventh century are too imperfectly recorded to set 
them in exact order. Three points perhaps are noticeable in regard 
to them ; first, that their King Cwichelm had attempted to destroy his 
enemy Edwine, the king of Northumbria, by assassination (a.d. 626) ; 
and this implies that although he had failed to conquer him in battle, 
he had carried his arms as far as Northumbria. The next is that the 
Northumbrian king had entered into close alliance with the king of 
Kent, and had married his daughter; so that in the south as well as in 
the north, Cwichelm was threatened. But the third point, and the most 
important, is that we now hear for the first time definitely of a king of 
the Mercians who succeeded to the throne during this year. The 
growth of this kingdom is not recorded. That it may have had its 
origin in the marches (whence its name) is probable, and that there 
may have been kings before Penda is possible ; but this is the date at 
which the kingdom first appears in the pages of history. Failing in 
the north, and attacked in the west by this Mercian king (who it would 
appear had allied himself to the British king Cadwalla), Cwichelm had 
to retire before this newly created foe. Under the year 628 we read 
of the West Saxon king fighting at Cirencester, a strong city which, just 
fifty years previously, one of his predecessors had taken, and that, in 
the too laconic words of the Chronicle, ' he had there made a treaty/ 
What this treaty involved is unfortunately not recorded. No religious 
house had as yet been established in the west in which to chronicle 
such documents ; neither could Beda learn anything of it, nor could 
the compiler of the great Chronicle in Alfred's reign. But gathering 
from the after-story, there is not much doubt that the Thames was the 
stipulated southern boundary of Mercia, and therefore from this date 
the site of Oxford, and Oxford itself, if any vill by this time was in 
existence there, was in Mercian territory : it would have been for a 
time at least a border town, and so subject to assault from the other 
side of the river when the two kingdoms were at war with each other. 

During the thirty years of the rule of Penda (a.d. 626-655) the 
Mercian kingdom seems to have had a success second only to that 
of the West Saxon kingdom. It seems to have been extended into 
Northumbria on the north when Saint Oswald the Northumbrian king 
was slain : but whether or not during the reign of Penda the southern 
boundary was extended is perhaps doubtful: certainly it was so in 
the reign of Wulfhere, Penda' s successor, when the Mercian kingdom 

G % 

8 4 


was carried across the Thames up to the Berkshire range of Hills 
already referred to. The words of the Chronicle are : — 

* A. 661. This year during Easter Cenwalh fought at Posentes-burh, 
and Wulfhere the son of Penda laid the country waste as far as 
iEscesdun V 

It would appear from this that on Penda's death the West Saxon 
King Cenwalh disregarded the treaty which his father Cynegils had made 
at Cirencester (presuming it to have fixed the Thames as the boundary 
between the two kingdoms), and attempted to gain back some, at least, 
of the territory which his father had been forced to give up. He had 
been encouraged by the successes which he had gained in the west 
in a.d. 652 and 658 against the Welsh, obtaining victories (as would 
appear) both on the River Avon and the River Parret, thereby extend- 
ing his kingdom westward to the Bristol Channel ; this land hitherto 
had belonged to the Britons, who had readily found in the Mendip 
Hills many strongly entrenched positions difficult for the Saxons to 
take. The most probable explanation of the battle of Pontesbury is, 
that the West Saxon king had made use of the Severn, to effect a raid 
into the Mercian territory in the neighbourhood of Shrewsbury, up to 
which point it was navigable by vessels. On the other hand, the 
Mercian king had retaliated by crossing the Thames. The result 
however, as regards the site of Oxford, was that instead of being on 
the southern border of Mercia, it was now well within the limits of 
the Mercian rule. Before this any one standing on the site of Christ 
Church Meadow, would look across the river into the kingdom of 
Wessex, now he would look into a part of the kingdom of Mercia 
extending southwards some ten or twelve miles to the hills in the 
neighbourhood of Didcot, and possibly even still further. 

There is much doubt as to the interpretation to be put upon the 
isolated entries in the chronicles for the next forty years respecting 
this district. Wulfhere, the Mercian king, apparently desirous of 
obtaining a coast line, and so of providing means of communication 
with the old country from which his race had come, seems to have 
gained possession of a strip of border land between the South Saxons 
and the West Saxons, and to have taken the Isle of Wight, which, the 
Chronicle records, ' he gave to the South Saxon king, probably for 
services rendered, and as a matter of policy (though the Chronicler 
attributes it to the circumstance of iEthelwald the South Saxon king 
being his god-son). In the last year of his reign, a.d. 675, we find 

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sub anno. Appendix A, § 25. 


Wulfhere still at war with the West Saxons; but it is impossible to 
identify the place, Beadan-head, where the fight took place. Ethelred 
who succeeded carried the Mercian arms successfully into Kent, and 
ten years later (unless there is some error in the Chronicle) the West 
Saxon King Ceadwalla does the same, as well as in the following year 
(i.e. a.d. 686 and 687). 

When the century turns, the probability is that the kingdoms of 
Mercia and Wessex are much in the same condition as they were at 
the time of Penda's death, though from incidental circumstances, which 
are connected with the ecclesiastical history, it is somewhat doubtful 
whether the great tract on the south of the Thames, which for con- 
venience we may call the Abingdon and Wantage district was abso- 
lutely in the kingdom of Mercia or in the kingdom of Wessex. The 
record is so meagre, and what there is so much taken up with eccle- 
siastical events — which were naturally considered to be of more 
importance by the compiler of the Chronicle — that it is quite possible 
there were treaties by which the under-king of the district may have 
bound himself in certain points of allegiance to both the one king and 
the other, and a neutral strip of territory to have been the result. 

In a.d. 688 the great King Ine had succeeded to the West Saxon 
kingdom; and in a.d. 704 the Mercian King had retired to become 
a monk. 

We have now arrived at the beginning of the eighth century, and 
as this includes the foundation of St. Frideswide's Nunnery, it will be 
well to pass on to another chapter. 


The Foundation of St. Frideswide's Nunnery, 
a. d. 727. 

Before speaking of the foundation of a nunnery in Oxford, it 
seems necessary to say a few words on the ecclesiastical history of the 
district, and the circumstances which render the foundation of such an 
institution probable at this time in this part of the kingdom. For it 
will be seen that the evidence we have of the foundation is of the very 
slightest description, and therefore the surrounding circumstances must 
weigh considerably in the acceptance or rejection of the legend. 

Augustine's mission in a.d. 596, like Caesar's invasion, began and, 
for all practical purposes, ended in Kent; but Birinus in a.d. 634,' 
like Aulus Plautius in his conquest, occupied, to begin with, a much 
larger kingdom, and his work was afterwards extended to a dominion 
larger still. The curious circumstance attending his mission is that, 
though directed to the West-Saxon King Cynegils, whom he baptized, 
and though virtually the Apostle of the West-Saxon kingdom, his stool, 
or seat, was fixed at Dorchester, which like Oxford was on the north 
bank of the Thames, and so seemingly in the Mercian kingdom, the 
king of which was the heathen Penda. What makes it more strange 
is that the saintly Oswald of Northumbria came and stood godfather 
to Cynegils at his baptism at Dorchester, a.d. 635, whom, eight years 
after, the heathen Penda slew. The explanation probably lies in the 
circumstance of the kings of Wessex and Northumbria finding it con- 
venient to meet at some border city like Dorchester, which was more 
or less neutral ground ; and there is enough recorded to show that 
there was an alliance between these two kings as against Penda. 

The circumstance is told so clearly and definitely in the Chronicles, 
that there can be little doubt that there was a Register kept in the 
church at Dorchester at this time, from which the passage has been 
extracted. Royal baptisms (for two others are recorded later on) are 
just such events as would be so recorded. It is not therefore as if 
the district in which Oxford lay was uneventful at this epoch or 
without means of record ; and therefore the reason of the name of 


Oxford not occurring was either that it did not exist, or that no event 
of importance took place there. 

In a.d. 655, after the death of Penda, the Mercians embraced 
Christianity — at least so runs a line in the Chronicle under this year ; 
and when Wine is appointed to the Bishopric of the West Saxons, 
in a.d. 660, it is doubtful whether his seat was at Dorchester or at 
Winchester. Possibly, first of all, at Dorchester ; and when Wulfhere 
extended the Mercian kingdom over the Thames as far as iEscesdun, 
in a.d. 661, Dorchester became so isolated that the Bishop moved 
into the church which had already been built some years previously at 
Winchester. And this is probably the explanation of apparent contra- 
dictory statements as to his title both in Beda and in the Chronicles. 

Though the Mercians became Christians, we do not find that 
the kingdom of Mercia became a diocese, as was the case with 
Wessex. The king seems rather to have passively admitted Chris- 
tianity than actively to have supported it, and Diuma the Scot, who 
appears to have been the first Mercian bishop, fixed his seat at 
Repton, far away from Oxford. At first, therefore, there was no 
diocese which could be said to include the site of Oxford; but some 
years later, that is about the year 680, when the Mercian kingdom 
is supposed to have been separated into dioceses, at the instigation of 
Archbishop Theodore, we gather from an entry in Beda \ that ^Etla was 
appointed to the old see of Dorchester, so that what had been once 
the chief seat of the great Wessex diocese, was perhaps now a seat of 
one of the Mercian dioceses, and to this Oxford would belong. 

At the close, then, of the seventh century, and in the early part of the 
eighth century, we find not only that the Mercian kingdom was ruled 
by a Christian king, but that it had been separated into dioceses, and 
Oxford was within some ten or twelve miles of the seat of one of 
the bishops. 

Next it should be borne in mind that we have now arrived at a 
period when the foundation of nunneries was by no means un- 
common in England. Beda refers frequently to the founding of these 
establishments. For instance, when writing of the accession of Ear- 
conbert to the kingdom of Kent, in a.d. 640, he observes that the 
king had a daughter Earcongota, a virgin of great virtues, serving the 
Lord in a nunnery in the region of the Franks (i. e. at Brie). 

' For at that time, there being not as yet many monasteries built in 
the region of the Angles, many were wont, for the sake of monastic 

1 Beda book iv. cap. 23. At the same time there are some difficulties as to the 
appointment of /Etla. See Bright's Early Church History, Oxford, 1878, p. 311. 



conversation, to go from Britain to the monasteries of the Franks, 
or of Gaul; and they also sent their daughters to the same to be 
instructed 1 .' 

In speaking too of the community of Heruteu or Hartlepool having 
been founded by a religious handmaid of Christ, Heiu, he adds, ' who 
is said to have been the first woman who took the vow and habit of 
a nun in the province of the Northumbrians 2 . As she was consecrated 
by Bishop Aidan, the date must be between a.d. 635-651. If we 
take the names of the abbesses in this country mentioned by 
Beda only before the year a.d. 735, we should make a fair list, 
but chiefly of those in the north. One of the first in the South 
was Ethelburga, the daughter of King Ethelbert of Kent, who had 
received Augustine. She had married the Northumbrian king, and 
on his death, returned, with Bishop Paulinus, to her own country, and 
founded for herself the religious establishment at Liming about 633. 
The only other nunnery recorded by Beda as founded in the south of 
England, is that which Bishop Erconwald established, over which his 
sister could preside, at Barking, in a.d. 677, having already founded a 
monastery a few years previously at Chertsey, both being on the 
Thames. As however Beda was living far away, at Jarrow, it is not 
surprising that we have but few records of what was passing in these 
parts. And this accounts for the fact that he does not . mention 
S. Frideswide, though, if the date of a.d. 727 may be relied upon for 
the foundation of her nunnery, he might well have recorded it, for he 
brings his history down to the year a.d. 731, and lived four years 
afterwards. In the same way he does not name the foundation of 
the great monastery of Abingdon, which took place before the close 
of the seventh century : and as that is so immediately in the neigh- 
bourhood, it may be worth while to point out in what way this 
foundation may be said to illustrate that of S. Frideswide ; for in the 
Abingdon documents we have far more evidence touching on the 
early history, than in the case of S. Frideswide. At the same time, there 
are some difficulties in interpreting the record accurately. 

One of the two chroniclers of Abingdon commences his story with 
extracts from the fiction of Geoffrey of Monmouth, introducing the 
names of Faganus and Diruvianus, and an etymological invention 
about a certain Aben, a monk of Ireland and a hermit, based solely 
upon the name of Abindon ; the writer has therefore to be followed with 

1 Beda, book iii. cap. 8, Beda mentions two daughters of English kings, viz. 
Saethryd and ^Ethelberga who had been abbesses of this very nunnery at Brie. 
Appendix A, § 26. 

2 Ibid, book iv. cap. 23. 


caution. The other has a more succinct account ; but it appears to be 
based, partially at least, upon fragments of charters, which are very 
awkwardly pieced together, and he has not perhaps quite understood 
them. The author of the De Abbatibus, another chronicle, has 
written a connected story of the foundation, and this is evidently 
based upon the charters ; but much seems to have been added which 
was due to his ingenuity, if not pure invention. The charters seem 
to point to the fact that King Cissa \ who was by implication a pre- 
decessor of King Ceadwalla of Wessex, granted land to Hean 2 (who 
is called by the title of patricius), and to his sister Cilia (who is 
referred to as the abbess in one of the charters), to build, as it would 
appear, respectively a monastery and a nunnery. There are confirma- 
tions of their grants by King Ceadwalla (who succeeded a.d. 685), 
but a refusal by King Ine (who succeeded a.d. 688), on the ground 
that Hean had not fulfilled the conditions on which the land was 
granted. The most concise of the two Chronicles summarises the 
matter thus : — 

' Who the first founder was we have learnt from ancient records ; 
namely, that Cissa, king of the West Saxons, gave a place to a certain 
Hean, a man of religious life, and abbot, and similarly to his sister, for 
building a monastery to the worship of Almighty God ; and at the same 
time adding, of his royal favour to the grant, many benefits and posses- 
sions to supply the necessaries of life to those who should live there. 
Both of them were of royal race. But not long after, before he could 
set about the work he had contemplated, the king died 3 .' 

It is not necessary to go into the difficulties, or the question whether 
Hean behaved well or ill, or how after five years he appears to have 
been tired of the monastic life, and required his possessions back 
again. What concerns us is a passage which the Chronicle introduces 
to the following effect : — 

' However, King Ceadwalla [685-688], on whose soul God have 
mercy, not only gave the above-named possessions to Abingdon, but 
also of his own free will he also granted to Cilia, the sister of the 

1 No such king is mentioned in the chronicle, but the circumstances there narrated 
leave it quite open that there was such an under-king. After the death of Cenwalh, 
A.d. 672, the chronicle leads us to suppose that the government was in an unsatis- 
factory state. He left no heir, and the Queen undertook the rule for a year. We 
find also the names of Escwin, 676, and of Centwin, 685 ; Beda writes very distinctly 
'Acceperunt subreguli regnum gentis et divisum inter se tenuerunt annis circiter 
decern.' Liber iv. cap. 12. Ceadwalla did not succeed till 685. 

2 The compiler of the treatise De Abbatibus Abbendoniae (printed from 
Cottonian MS. A. XIII. in Abingdon Abbey Chron., Rolls Series vol. ii.) makes 
Hean the nephew of King Cissa. 

3 Abingdon Abbey Chron., Rolls Series, vol. i. p. I, note. Appendix A, § 27. 



patrician Hean, leave to build a nunnery, in the place that is now called 
Helenstowe, near the Thames, where this virgin dedicated herself to 
God, and, taking the holy veil, assembled around her several nuns, 
over whom she eventually became the Mother and Abbess. 

1 After her decease, and after some time had passed, the aforesaid 
nuns were moved from this place to a vill which is called Witham ; 
and after several years had passed, when the terrible and unheard-of 
war arose between OfFa, king of the Mercians, and Cenwulf, king of 
the West Saxons [a.d. 777], there was, at that time, a fortress made 
upon the Hill of Witham, and on account of this the nuns removed 
from that place, nor were permitted afterwards to return V 

The point to be noticed is that here an under-king grants to his 
niece (if we accept the author of the De A bbatibus) land for the founda- 
tion of a house of religious women in a.d. 675, and this therefore is 
certainly a precedent which renders very probable the grant some 
years later, also by an under-king to his daughter, and for a similar 
purpose, just on the other side of the Thames. But what are we to say 
to the story of the nuns leaving Abingdon and coming to Wytham ? 

The later chronicler of the three expands the story 2 ; but the substance 
is the same, except that he introduces the story of the grant of a cross, 
in which was inserted a portion of one of the nails from our Lord's 
cross, which story may or may not be his own pious addition to the 
Chronicle 3 . But the departure of the nuns to Wytham cannot well be 
an invention, and it is not, so to speak, required for colouring, and 
the Witham, or Wittheam (as it is spelt in one case), must be the 
Wytham which in the Domesday Survey is stated, with its church and 
mill, to belong to Abingdon Abbey, and ' always to have done so V 

As can readily be seen on the map it is situated on the other bank 
of the little stream which forms the actual boundary of Berkshire 
and Oxfordshire, near where S. Frideswide chose a spot for her 
dwelling. The two churches of Wytham and Binsey are scarce two 
miles apart, and the parishes adjoin. If (as appears to be the case 
by the passages extracted from the later Chronicle) upon the death of 
the foundress of Abingdon, which probably happened about a.d. 700, 

1 Historia Monasterii Abingdon, Rolls Series, vol. i. p. 8. Appendix A, § 3. 

2 De Abbatibus, p. 269. 

3 Later on the Chronicle recounts the finding of the cross when Athelwold was 
abbot (i.e. about 955 to 963, before he was translated to the Bishopric of Winchester), 
and when they were making their watercourse ; and that they set it up in the 
monastery, f and that it was held in great reverence to the present day.' He adds, 
' this is that which is called the Black Cross.' In all probability the name Helen- 
stowe is given to fit the legend, but this of course in no way discredits the story of 
Cilia actually founding the nunnery. 

4 There are also numerous references to it amongst the summaries and charters 
contained in the Chron. Mm. de Abingdon. It is usually spelt 'Uuitham.' 


the nuns moved thence to Wytham, and were there till a.d. 777, 
S. Frideswide, when she went to Binsey, must have found companions 
there in 727. To this story of S. Frideswide, and the evidence on 
which it is based, it is now time to turn ; but so much has been said 
to show an a priori reason for accepting at least the main part of 
that story. 

The material on which we have to rely for the history of the found- 
ation of S. Frideswide consists, chiefly, of what professes to be a copy 
of a charter, granted by King JEthelred in 1004 ; this only recites, first, 
the fact of the previous existence of the monastery ; secondly, that of 
the body of S. Frideswide reposing there ; and thirdly, that of the 
books and charters of the monks, which secured to them their property, 
having been lost by a fire two years previously : but some copies of this 
charter are preceded by a summary of the story of foundation. Besides 
this, we have certain lives of the virgin which appear to have been 
written as early as the twelfth century ; but possibly copied from or 
based upon others still earlier. 

The following extract contains the summary of the story, and just so 
much of the charter as concerns the early foundation. Perhaps the 
earliest transcript of the summary and charter are found in a volume 
transcribed for the use of Oseney Abbey, which, it will be remembered, 
was once a formidable rival to S. Frideswide. This Cottonian MS. 1 
consists mainly of a cartulary, but at the beginning are the few pages 
of a brief chronicle, described in the original catalogue of the library 
as 'a chronicle of the English from 1066-1179.' This is followed by 
a list of the Abbots of Oseney, and by the charters of the monastery 
of Oseney ; but the MS., like so many others of the collection, suffered 
terribly in the fire of 173 1, and only the central portions of the leaves 
are legible. Fortunately we have other copies, for from this very 
manuscript Dugdale had made a transcript before the fire, and printed 
it in his Monaslicon ; and further we find fourteenth century copies of 
it preserved in the larger of the two cartularies of S. Frideswide, namely 
that in the possession of the Christ Church Chapter. The passage runs 
as follows : — 

1 It is to be noted that Didanus, formerly king of Oxford, reigned 
about the year of our Lord's Incarnation, 726. This King Didanus 

1 In Plantas Catalogue (1802) it is described as Codex Membr. in tfo incendio 
corrugatus et pene inutilis in capsula asservata. The editors of the enlarged 
edition of Dugdale's Monasticon (181 7) speak of it as 'but a collection of burnt 
fragments '; yet with the care recently bestowed on the MSS. in the British Museum 
it has been rendered accessible, each leaf having been carefully mounted so that the 
central portion is generally tolerably legible. 



was father of S. Frideswide, who gave to her the place which she had 
desired, and caused the nun's habit to be given to her. 

' He constructed a church, and near it various buildings most 
suitable to religion, as appears in the Life of the holy Virgin. 
Also it appears, there, that the same Virgin peaceably obtained the 
place which was then called Thornebirie, but now Benseia ; for in 
concealment there a fountain sprung forth in answer to her prayers, 
and she cured one who was vexed of a devil, and another whose hand 
had clave to an axe. 

' Some time after the glorious death of S. Frideswide, the nuns having 
been taken away, Secular Canons were introduced. 

'Afterwards, in the year of grace 1004, King Ethelred ordered all 
the Danes of either sex then inhabiting England to be killed, and 
all those who had fled thither were burnt at Oxford, together with the 
Church, the Books and Ornaments, as appears from the Charter of 
King Ethelred, which follows in this wise. 

1 In the Year of our Lord 1004, in the 2nd indiction and in the 25th 
year of my reign, according to the disposal of God's providence, I 
Ethelred, ruling over the whole of Albion, have with liberty of charters 
by royal authority and for the love of the Almighty, established a 
certain monastery situated in the city which is called Oxoneford, 
where the body of S. Frideswide reposes, and have recovered the 
lands which belonged to this same monastery (arcisterio) 1 of Christ 
by the restoration of this new book of charters ; and for all those who 
shall look upon this page, &c. 2 ' 

It is not convenient to print the rest of the charter in this place, 
because the reason assigned is the attack, on S. Brice's day in 1002, by 
the townspeople upon S. Frideswide's church, in which the unfortunate 
Danes had taken refuge from the slaughter which King ^Ethelred had 
commanded; and so its discussion belongs to a later date. But by this 
attack, which involved setting fire to their place of refuge, if we are to 
believe the charter, the books belonging to the church were all burnt, 
and therefore we must suppose what was afterwards written was 
ascertained from tradition. 

1 Arcisterium. Ducange suggests that the word is a misspelling of Asceterium, 
derived from the Greek daKrjTrjpiov. Whenever it is used it simply means a 

2 Cotton MS. Vitellius, E. xv. (not F. 16, as originally given by Dugdale, 
vol. i. p. 174 (1682) and reprinted in the edition of 1817 and 1846, vol. ii. p. 143) ; 
printed in Dugdale as above. Though carefully restored and every leaf put as far 
as possible in its position, it is difficult to say exactly to what part each leaf 
belonged. The charter and the introduction to it occupy the recto of folio 5 of 
the MS. as it is now paginated, and on the back has been transcribed a charter, 
apparently of the 5th of Henry III (i.e. 1269). The transcription of the sum- 
mary and charter of S. Frideswide is quite as late, if not later. Also found in the 
S. Frideswide's Cartulary, preserved in Christ Church ; folio 7, but actually the 
first folio of the Cartulary itself. See Appendix A, § 29. 


We must suppose then that this charter, or an early copy of it, was in 
their leger book and was thence copied at a later date by some monk 
at Oseney. But we have an independent and earlier testimony to the 
fact that some such charter existed in some shape in the treasury of 
the church, namely William of Malmesbury. In his History of the 
Kings of England, which he completed about the f year 11 20, when he 
is giving an account of the Danes being driven for safety into the 
tower of the church, he adds, ' I have read this in writing, which is 
preserved in the archives of the church, as a proof of the fact V It 
will be seen, when we have to consider the circumstances of this 
massacre, that William of Malmesbury is evidently referring to this 
charter, though he has, in one respect, interpreted it erroneously. 

But in addition to the charter there is the introduction, in which we 
obtain an outline of the story of an establishment, first of a nunnery, 
then of a monastery. It cannot be denied that the paragraph, taken as 
a whole, is similar to such general statements in respect to original 
foundation as often appear at the beginning of Cartularies ; and the 
Oseney chronicler may have seen it in that of S. Frideswide, together 
with the charter, exactly as he has written it. And this view would be 
somewhat confirmed by the fact that the same general introduction, 
beginning 'Nolandum est quod Didanus] appears in the existing 
Cartulary, preserved at Christ Church 2 . At the same time, in the earlier 
copy preserved in Corpus Christi College, the introduction is absent, 
and the charter is there given as if it stood alone 3 . 

It will be observed, in the extract preceding the charter, that there 
l s a distinct reference to the ' Life of the holy virgin/ The most 
important point therefore, is to ascertain as far as possible the earliest 
form in which that life was written ; for it is the nature of all such 
biographies to expand under the religious fervour of successive tran- 
scribers : the element of historical truth thereby often becomes lost, 
and we gain instead details which, though they are intended to evoke 
our piety, may result only in leading us astray as to the facts. 

1 William of Malmesbury, De gestis Regum Angliae, Lib. II. § 1 1 7, Engl. Hist. 
Society's Ed. London 1840, vol. i. p. 279. See later on, Chapter VIII. 

2 S. Frideswide's Cartulary Ch. Ch. folio 7. Though really the first folio of 
the Cartulary itself, the paragraph follows the rubric, ' Here begins the Register of 
Charters and Muniments of S. Frideswide.' The paragraph beginning 'After- 
wards in the year of grace,' appears as a rubric to the Charter beginning 'In the 
year of our Lord 1004.' The whole is repeated three times in other parts of the 
Cartulary, namely in an Inspeximus of Edward I (fol. 25), of Edward III (fol. 36), 
and of Richard II (fol. 45). There are slight variations in all, but not affecting 
the sense. See Appendix A, § 29. 

3 S. Frideswide's Cartulary, preserved in Corpus Christi College, Oxford, fol. 271. 



William of Malmesbury, in his History of the Kings, as already 
mentioned, refers to the Charter which he had seen, but in his Lives 
of the Bishops, written about five years later (i.e. about 1125), he gives 
an account of the foundation of S. Frideswide, which he obtained either 
from documentary evidence, or, as in this case is very possible, from 
hearsay. It runs as follows : — 

1 There was anciently in the City of Oxford a Convent of Nuns, in 
which the most holy virgin Frideswide reposes. 

4 She, the daughter of a king, despised marriage with a king, con- 
secrating her virginity to the Lord Christ. But he, when he had set 
his mind on marrying the virgin, and found all his entreaties and 
blandishments of no avail, determined to make use of forcible means. 

'When Frideswide discovered this she determined upon taking 
flight into the wood. But neither could her hiding-place be kept 
secret from her lover, nor was there want of courage to hinder his 
following the fugitive. The virgin therefore, having heard of the 
renewed passion of the young man, found her way, by the help of God, 
through obscure paths, in the dead of night, into Oxford. When in the 
morning her anxious lover hastened thither, the maiden, now despairing 
of safety by flight, and also by reason of her weariness being unable 
to proceed further, invoked the aid of God for herself, and punish- 
ment upon her persecutor. And now, as he with his companions 
approached the gates of the city, he suddenly became blind, struck 
by the hand of heaven. And when he had admitted the fault of his 
obstinacy, and Frideswide was besought by his messengers, he received 
back again his sight as suddenly as he had lost it. Henee there has 
arisen a dread amongst all the kings of England which has caused them 
to beware of entering and abiding in that city since it is said to be 
fraught with destruction, every one of the kings declining to test the 
truth for himself by incurring the danger. 

' In that place, therefore, this maiden, having gained the triumph of 
her virginity, established a convent, and when her days were over and 
her Spouse called her, she there died. In the time of King Ethelred, 
however, when the Danes, being condemned to death, had taken 
refuge in this monastery, etc. 1 . . . ' 

He here summarises what he had already written in his History of 
the Kings, and brings the narrative down to the appointment of Prior 
Guimond, which took place probably about 1 120 ; but whether before 
or after his visit to Oxford, to which he refers in his former book, is 
not certain. 

Besides this summary written by William of Malmesbury, which 

1 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontificum, Lib. IV. § 178; Rolls Series, ed. 
Hamilton. London, 8vo, 1870, p. 315. It is generally accepted that he completed 
his Historia Regum about 11 20, and his Gesta Pontificum about 11 25. 


must be dated not later than 1125, we have two rather complete 
lives of S. Frideswide, apparently of about the same date as regards 
the handwriting, but both rather later than the above date. The one 
is preserved in the Cottonian Collection in the British Museum 1 , the 
other amongst the Laudian MSS. in the Bodleian Library 2 . 

Without entering too much into the details respecting the life of 
S. Frideswide, which these manuscripts afford, there are some points 
which bear upon the general question of the amount of credit to be 
assigned to the story of the foundation of S. Frideswide' s Nunnery, in 
its main outline, to which some reference may well here be made. 

And first of all it is to be remarked, that William of Malmes- 
bury gives no names ; secondly, that he omits many important 
parts of the story which the other biographers and those who follow 
them give in detail ; and thirdly, that in some particulars he tells the 
story very differently 3 . 

As has already been said, it was not till 11 22, or thereabouts, that 
Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, who was then Chancellor, appointed 
Guimond, the king's chaplain, to the charge of the monastery. He at 
once introduced regular canons, and the monastery took a new 
start — it may almost be said was refounded : and it was probably at 
this time or soon after, that the lives, as we possess them, were 

The writer of the Cottonian MS. introduces ' Rex quidam Oxne- 
fordia cut nomen erat Didanus,' as being the father of S. Frideswide. 
The Laudian MS. has ' subregulus quidam nomine Didanus! There 
could not have been a king of Mercia of the name of Dida, but there 
is nothing improbable in there being an under-king 4 of some such 

1 Cottonian MSS. Nero E. i, a collection of Lives of the Saints, most of which 
are written in handwriting as early as the eleventh century ; but at folio 362 another 
and later hand is commenced. 

2 Bodleian MS. Laud. Misc .114 is also a collection of Lives of the Saints, written 
in a twelfth-century hand throughout, and would appear to have been compiled, if 
not written, about King Stephen's reign. 

3 When William of Malmesbury visited Glastonbury, it is obvious he collected 
what he could from hearsay when he made his history, as the word 'ut fertur' shows. 
We have no original MS. of that history, as we have here in the case of the account of 
S. Frideswide, in the De Gesta Pontificum, and the earliest copy is much interpolated. 
But a consideration of what seems to be original matter shows that he was a careful 
historiographer, rejecting what he thought improbable, but at the same time accept- 
ing much which was only the talk of the several places about which he wrote at 
the time he visited them. It is quite possible that he wrote a good deal of his account 
of S. Frideswide from hearsay. 

4 The example of an under-king in Wessex a few years previously has already 
been noted. 

9 6 


name, though so far as has been observed no charter is extant with 
such a signature. Still the name is similar to many contemporary 
names, like Oba, Lulla, &c, and Dida, in the Latin form, would be 
Didanus. Again, the Cottonian MS. has t Hic accepil uxorem nomine 
Sefridam] while the Laudian MS., more fully expanding what was 
originally written, has, ' Hie nutu divino uxorem moribus suis con- 
gruam Safridam nomine accepit', but neither of the names would 
appear to have existed in the story as told to William of Malmesbury. 
The Cottonian MS. has the circumstance that at five years old they 
handed her over ' cuidam matronae Algiva nomine, ad erudiendam 
litter as.' The Laudian has 1 liter arum studiis erudienda tradilur sub 
matronem cujusdam ad modum religiosae disciplinae cui nomen Algiva! 
The Cottonian tells us briefly such were her powers, ' ut infra sex 
menses totum sciret psalterium' The Laudian asks who would not be 
astonished, c quinquenam virgunculam in quinque fere mensibus Psalmos 
Daviticos, qui centum quinquaginta sunt, didicisse memoriaeque com- 
mendasse?' The difference between the five or six months is of no 
great importance, but it seems to show that the original had not 
defined the exact time. The few lines about her virtue and piety and 
of the austerity of her living, described in the Cottonian, appear much 
expanded in the Laudian MS. 

The mother dies ; the father, according to the Cottonian MS., builds 
a church, and has it consecrated in honour of the Holy Trinity, of the 
Immaculate Virgin Mary, and of All Saints ; and S. Frideswide begs 
her father to give her the church. After a time she beseeches him to 
let her adopt the nun's habit, and ever to praise and bless God in His 
holy temple. The king is overjoyed (valde gavisus) and sends for a 
holy man, ' Osgarum nomine Lincolniensium Pontificem ' ; he orders him 
to consecrate his daughter to God, and twelve virgins of noble race are 
consecrated with her. The Laudian MS. tells the story somewhat 
differently; but it has the passage so far, that the king is ' ineslimabiliter 
gavisus,' and makes him send for a bishop from the neighbouring 
diocese. Although the writer expands all the descriptive details more 
than his rival biographer, he has not ventured upon either the name of 
a diocese or the name of a bishop. Nothing however could be more 
unfortunate than the guess which the first, and to all appearances 
more accurate biographer, has made, for Lincoln was not the seat of 
a diocese till Remigius moved his see from Dorchester thither about 
a. d. 1090. Had he chosen almost any other diocese we should not 
have suspected his interpolation, but he only knew Oxford was in the 
Lincoln diocese at the time he was writing, and not being at all versed 


in ecclesiastical history he invented the name Osgar, which it is hardly 
necessary to say occurs in no list of bishops whatever. Though 
unfortunate for him as regards exposure of his inventive powers, it 
shows to us that his addition to the story cannot be earlier than the 
twelfth century, or the diocese of Dorchester would not have been 
forgotten in Oxford; it is most likely of the same age as the copy 
which we possess, and of which the handwriting may be assigned 
to somewhere about the year 1130. 

But to proceed with the story. Both her parents being dead, and 
the virgin installed in her nunnery, the two writers relate substantially 
in the same manner her encounter with the Devil, who appears before 
her with a crowd of demons (the same words ' demonum constipatus 
caterva,' occurring in each), and the answer which S. Frideswide makes 
to him when he promises her all she wishes if she will worship him, 
is so far the same as to appear to be the expansion of a common 
original which gave some of the details. 

Then we come to the great point of her legend. The Cottonian 
MS. has a certain 1 Rex Leicestrensium vir nefandissimus et Deo odiosus 
success// in regnum post obi turn Didani regis, A/gar nomine! The 
Laudian MS. has also the name Algar, ' Reg em namque Algarum,' 
but the writer has not ventured to give him a definite kingdom. Now, 
since we have seen how the author of the Cottonian has used his skill 
in rinding the name of a diocese which did not exist till 1092, the 
suggestion forces itself on our mind that he may have obtained the 
name Algar from the Domesday Survey of 1087, f° r in it, under 
Oxford, we find that the town was held by 'Comes Algar' in the 
time of Edward the Confessor 1 . Whether or not it was in the 
original life from which both biographers copied must be an open 
question ; it is quite as likely that the name having been once sug- 
gested, both the first and second writers inserted it in their lives from 

1 It will be noticed also that the title given is Rex Leicestrensium. Earl Algar, 
it must be remembered, was the son of the famous Leofric. Henry of Huntingdon, 
under the year 1057, writes: 'Lefricus quoque consul nobilissimus defunctus est. . . 
Algarus vero ejus filius suscepit consulatum Cestriae.' The title Rex is given prob- 
ably for the sake of historical consistency and according to the knowledge which the 
writer possessed. The only other examples, except two Bishops, of nobles bearing 
the name of Algar (written usually iElfgar) are Algar, a kinsman of King Edgar, 
who died a.d. 962, and was buried at Wilton, and Algar, son of Earl Alfric, whom 
King Ethelred ordered to be blinded in 993. Possibly this last fact may have further 
recommended the name, if not have given rise to that special element in the tradition. 
For the above see Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the respective years. The state- 
ment however that the Rex Leicestrensium succeeds to the kingdom of the Rex 
Oxnefordiae, is sufficient to show that the names can have no historical basis. 


9 8 


hearsay, but the first only ventured upon the geographical detail of 
his being King of Leicester before he succeeded to Oxford. 

Both the chroniclers tell this part of the story differently from what 
William of Malmesbury has recorded. Of course it is just possible that 
he had heard the same story as the others and remembered it so 
imperfectly as to write it differently. Still, it is only a possibility, and 
the variations must be noted and be taken for what they are worth in 
the general chain of evidence. The Cottonian and Laudian MSS. 
have first the story of the despatch of ambassadors to Frideswide. 
They were to use arguments and persuasions, and if these did not 
succeed, then threats and actual force. The conversations are duly 
given, and in the second MS. at considerable length. When they 
came to use force they were struck blind ; all the people were 
astonished ; they begged of the virgin, and she prayed to God that they 
should receive their sight, and they did so. They then went and told 
the king. It will be observed, however, that in William of Malmesbury's 
version it is the king who is here struck blind, and the messengers 
who implore the virgin to restore the king's sight. Further, all this, 
which is narrated from Malmesbury and the two twelfth-century 
biographers, is wanting in the ' Notandum quod Didanus ' of the 
Chartulary. Such important variations rob the legend of much of 
its value. 

Then, to follow the story ; if we take the extract as it stands in 
the copy in the Cartularies, we have an account of S. Frideswide 
immediately obtaining a place at Thornbury, afterwards called Binsey ; 
William of Malmesbury merely says ' a wood' : but if we take it as told 
by the two biographers, after the messengers had returned, and the 
king was furious at what he heard, Frideswide was warned in a dream 
by an angel to flee and is directed to go to the Thames, and take 
with her as many of the nuns as she pleases, and then she finds, as was 
told her, a boat with a young man sitting in it, who requests them to 
get in. Then both MSS. agree that in the space of one hour they 
arrived at a vill which is called Bentona 1 . The close similarity in 
this respect seems to show that the name was in some earlier version 
than that of the two biographers. The view that there was this earlier 
version perhaps receives support from the Cottonian MS. which, after 
narrating how the youth suddenly disappeared when S. Frideswide and 
her companions quitted the boat at Benton, and how for fear of the 
wicked king they entered into a certain wood, has a blank space left, 
as if the scribe could not read the name of the wood, and left it to be 

1 Cottonian MS. Bentonia. Laudian MS. Bentona. 


filled in afterwards, as the sentence ends, non longe a supra-dicta 
villa 1 . In the Cottonian MS. their path leads them ' ad mansiunculam 
quam quondam fecerunt subulci custodientes greges porcorum,' covered 
all over with ivy. In the Laudian ' Tandem mapale conspiciunt ad 
porcorum tutamen constructum,' but so overgrown with ivy that no one 
could see the entrance. Both agree in the hut being covered with 
ivy, but in nothing else, for in one case it was the dwelling of herds- 
men, in the other of the pigs. Meanwhile the king came with his 
followers to Oxford, and when he began to enter he became blind. 
The Laudian, in process of expansion, has ' Cumque appropinquant 
portae quae ad aquilonarem duett', the former not venturing to name 
which gate it was. In both the king is made to remain blind for the 
rest of his life, a very different story from that of William of Malmes- 
bury. Both chronicles also refer to the tradition that from that time no 
king ventured to enter Oxford, which it will be observed William of 
Malmesbury inserts in his account. The insertion by the latter seems 
rather to show his faith in the legend, than to be based upon his 
recollection of historical fact 2 . 

Then we have in the Cottonian MS. an account of three miracles, 
all happening while sojourning in the wood at ' Benton.' The first is 
the cure of a blind girl, seven years of age, 4 in supradicta villa Ben- 
tonia' through the virtue of the water, which she was to obtain, 
wherein S. Frideswide had washed her hands. The next was that of 
a young man, by name Alward, who lived in the vill which is called 
Sevecordia, who while cutting wood with an axe on Sunday, ' parvi 
pendens diem Resurrectionis Dominicae,' found his hand fixed to the 
handle, so that he could not let it go. The third relates to some 

1 In another MS., but of the fourteenth century, viz. MS. Lansdowne 436, which 
follows this for a great part verbatim, the words run 'Ingressae sunt nemus de 
Beneseya,' but whether the transcriber had before him an older copy, and read what 
the Cottonian writer could not read, or whether, finding in the copy of the latter the 
place vacant, had filled in of his own device the word * de Beneseya,' there is no 
evidence to show. 

2 A very long dissertation is given upon this point by the writer of the articles on 
S. Frideswide in the Acta Sanctorum, vol. viii. p. 538, but the argument is mainly 
taken up in showing that Henry II. did not enter into the town at the time of the 
translation of S. Frideswide's bones in 11 89. This may be so, but as his palace 
of Beaumont was just outside the wall, it would be extraordinary if on no occasion 
he had passed within the gates of the town. But the Bollandist writer does not 
touch facts which William of Malmesbury must have known when he wrote his 
account, namely, King Eadward the Elder in 912, in taking possession of Oxford, 
must surely have entered it. King ^Ethelred, according to his own showing, in 1015 
was present at a Gemot in Oxford. Henry of Huntingdon makes King Edmund to 
be murdered at Oxford in 1016, and in 1039 several chroniclers make King Harold 
die at Oxford. 

H 2 


fishermen, one of whom was seized with a violent fit and had to be 
bound. His name was Leowin, but we are not told where he lived. 
Then, after these miracles, S. Frideswide proposed to her companions 
to go back to Oxford, where she was honourably received 'a civibus el 
ah omni cleroJ As she entered she was met by the leper, who begged 
her to kiss him, which, after making the sign of the cross, she did, and 
he was cured of his leprosy. 

In this narrative, it will be observed, we have no mention whatever 
of Binsey or Thornbury. On the other hand, in the Laudian MS. we 
have an account of the miracle of the girl being healed ' in villa prae- 
dicta Bentona' and then S. Frideswide is made to say to her companions 
that she thinks it time they returned to their monastery. They then 
got into a boat, and were carried ' ad praedium civitate propinquum quod 
Buneseia dicilur,' and then we are told that there was in this ' praedium,' 
a place much overgrown with bushes of a thorny character called ' in 
lingua Saxonica Thornbiri.' Here she built the oratory and many 
buildings most fit for a dwelling for the holy women, and here, since 
the spot was some distance from the river, and so inconvenient to the 
sisters, in answer to her prayer a spring broke forth, ' qui nunc usque 
super est* Then it is that the ' infortunatus juvenis in villa quae dicilur 
Sevecordia" has his hand released from his axe, and of course now 
the story is made consistent, for ' Sevecordia,' or Seacourt, is only the 
other side of the stream from Binsey, the shire ditch dividing the two, 
as has been observed ; and the narrator introduces the circumstance 
of the man being taken to her, ' amne transilo,' i.e. by the road which 
led from Seacourt to Binsey, to which reference has already been 
made \ It was here, too, that the fisherman who was seized with a fit 
was healed. 

Then it was that, feeling her death approaching, she returned to 
her monastery, and the population met her, and she healed the leper 
by the kiss. 

All this about the migration from Benton to Binsey is entirely new, 
and beyond either what William of Malmesbury or the writer in the 
Cottonian MS. have given ; but the name Thornbury, the story of the 
spring, and one or two of the miracles, occur, as will have been noticed, 
in the abstract which is given in the Oseney History, and of which 
copies occur in the S. Frideswide cartularies. 

The account of her death in both biographies (for neither in the 
Oseney summary, nor in William of Malmesbury is any mention of it) 
is narrated much in the same way as if there was a common original. 

1 See ante, p. 69. 


She had foretold her decease, and had her grave dug, because the fol- 
lowing day being Sunday, she wished no one to work. The variations 
are of no special moment, except, perhaps, one passage. The Cot- 
tonian MS. in respect, of her burial, merely narrates she was buried in 
the church of S. Mary on the southern side. But the Laudian MS. 
has the following expansion : — ,.■ 

' The holy virgin was buried in the church of S. Mary, on the south 
side, near the bank of the Thames. For at that time the church was 
thus situated [and was so] up till the time of King Athelred, who, 
when the Danes who had fled thither were burnt in it, enlarged the 
circuit of the church as he had known it. Hence it happened that 
the tomb which before was on the south side came afterwards to be 
in the middle V 

These four narratives then, the one which William of Malmesbury 
procured for his history about 1125, the Laudian MS., which from 
certain evidence in the MS. itself appears not to have been compiled 
before 11 40, and the Claudian copy, which seems to lie between 
the two, and the abstract found in the cartularies, which, though the 
latest as to MS. authority, may be based on the earliest form of the story 
of all, provide us with the material on which to judge of the circumstances 
attending the first definite event which can be associated with Oxford 2 . 

We have to treat legends, it must be remembered, very differently 
from myths. They, as a rule, grow up around a shadow, while 
legends grow up round a substance. It is true it is not always easy 
to discover it, but by taking surrounding circumstances into account 
it is not unreasonable to hope to arrive at it approximately. 

Some stress has been laid upon the story of a nunnery being 
founded hard by about fifty years previous to the date ascribed to 
the foundation of S. Frideswide ; while in the few records we possess of 
that particular period such foundations are not uncommon. At this 
date jEthelbald was ruling Mercia, having succeeded in 716. Though 
a warlike king, yet, judging by the charters granted in his name, he 
seems to have encouraged the foundation of religious institutions. 
Again, although, as has been insisted on more than once, a site like 
Oxford, so close to the borders, was not favourable altogether to 
settlement, still there seemed now to be less danger to ecclesiastical 
than to royal property, because King Ina of Wessex, the foe to be 
feared, would not willingly have injured the Church. 

1 Bodl. MS. Laud Misc. 114, folio 138. Appendix A, § 31. 

2 It has not been thought necessary to refer to the variations of the legends as 
given by John of Tynemouth, Capgrave, and other writers. 



The name of Frideswide, more properly spelt with the <5, and so 
written in some MSS. ' Frithes-witha,' has all the characteristics of a 
good Saxon name. One is perhaps at first sight surprised to find in 
the Annals of Winton this : — 

1 In the year 721 Ethelward-was king of the West Saxons. His 
wife, Queen Fritheswitha, gave Taunton, which was of her patrimony, 
to the church of Winchester ; and Ethelward on his part added to the 
same manor vii manses for the need of the church V 
But this appears to be a various reading of the name which we find 
in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 737, viz. Frithogith 2 , 
who then with Bishop Forthere visits Rome. It is singular, however, 
that the two should occur about the same time, the one the daughter 
of a Mercian under-king, the other the wife of the Wessex king. The 
coincidence might indeed suggest that in consequence of her gifts to 
the church, the West Saxon queen had been canonized, and some 
later chronicler, wholly ignorant of the circumstances, had ascribed to 
her that which was at the time looked upon as the highest attribute of 
sanctity, namely, holy virginity — and that the several stories gathered 
round her in consequence. But there must at once be set against 
this, that the place associated with her name (and that certainly 
anterior to the year 1004, when Ethelred's charter refers to the 
foundation as something well known) was in Mercian territory and 
not in West Saxon territory. Had we found a monastery dedicated 
to S. Frideswide on the river Tone, or Parrot, or even on the Itchen, 
there would have been some reason for the supposition ; but as the 
church founded in her name was situated on the north bank of the 
Thames, there is little doubt but that the fame of S. Frideswide's 
monastery, in the thirteenth century, was such that the Winchester 
annalist, in writing of the queen of Wessex, blundered her name, and 
called her after the Oxford saint. 

Then as to the story of the persecution by King Algar 3 . A tradi- 

1 From the Annalcs Monasterii de Winton; printed in Wharton's Anglia 
Sacra, vol. i. p. 289. Appendix A, § 32. 

2 Leland also, in his Itinerary, vol. iii. p. 72 (Hearne's ed. p. 88) gives in an extract 
'Ex Libello Donationum Winton. Ecclcsiae'' the following line, ' Fritheswiglia 
Regina dedit Tanton? 

3 In the Acta Sanctorum, Oct. viii. p. 539, there is a reference, on the authority of 
Malbrancq and others, to S. Frideswide's journey to Rome, that writer speaking of 
a chapel existing there dedicated to this Virgin. In this case there can be little 
reasonable doubt that the recorded visit of S. Frisogith has been changed into that 
of S. Frideswide through error. Whence the origin of S. Frewisse, who is honoured 
at Bomy (Pas de Calais) about five miles south of Therouanne, does not appear. 
The Bollandist writer starts on the assumption that S. Frideswide went there; and 
though several pages (vol. viii. 560 et seq.) are given to the discussion he does not 


tion may have been handed down of some under-king who had asked 
her in marriage and whom she had refused, choosing rather to dedi- 
cate herself to God. Such a story is far from improbable, and the 
founding of a church with a community of women attached in order 
to avoid him is quite in accordance with what we might expect. The 
charter of King Ethelred seems distinctly to assert that at least certain 
lands were possessed by a community calling themselves from the 
name of the saint, who was buried in the church within their precincts. 
And this could not have come about without some portions of the 
legend being substantially true. The names of Algar, Algiva, and 
Osgar, as already said, may perhaps one and all be dismissed as 
additions by the transcribers of the legend. 

The next point to consider is the introduction of the name JBen- 
/om'a, as the place to which S. Frideswide is supposed to have fled 
from her persecutor. The place, it will be observed, is named by both 
the biographers as if they had copied a common original. In the 
summary given with the copies of the charter in the Cartulary of 
S. Frideswide, as has been said, no mention is made of the journey to 
this Bentonia ; she is said simply to have taken up her abode 1 peace- 
ably at Thornbury, now called Binsey.' Again, William of Malmesbury, 
in his story, omits all reference to the longer journey, and implies that 
a sojourn was made in a wood near Oxford, which would agree with this 
simpler version that her abode was at Binsey. In the Cottonian MS., 
on the contrary, there is no mention of the sojourn at Binsey at all, 
only at Benton. In the Laudian MS., which from the general cha- 
racter of the narrative appears to be the latest, both places are named ; 
first Bentonia, then Binsey *. 

Now it happens very frequently, when two stories are told in 
different ways, that the next chronicler inserts both stories and makes 
one succeed the other. There is much reason to suppose it has 
happened in this case. It is just the same probably with the story of 
the messengers first being struck blind, and then the king some time 
afterwards being struck blind also; and it will be observed that the second 
story is introduced somewhat awkwardly in the Cottonian version, be- 
cause S. Frideswide was away at Benton when the King is supposed 
to come to Oxford to find her. On the whole therefore the more prob- 

seem to get beyond seventeenth and eighteenth century writers such as Malbrancq, 
De Neuville, and Le Heurdre, and what they have to say appears to be simply 
derived from guesses. There is probably no connection between S. Frewisse and 
either Frisogita, or S. Frideswide. 

1 The fourteenth-century version in the Lansdowne MS. (see ante, p. 99) com- 
bines the two by making the wood of Binsey close to Bampton. 


able solution is that Benton came to be written erroneously, that there 
was only one place actually occupied, and that most likely was Binsey. 

But if this were not so, then where is Bentona? Amongst the guesses 
from the sound the commonest with writers has been Benson, i.e. 
Bensington, and though this is on the Thames yet it is over twenty 
miles down the river. There appears to be nothing to show that this 
place was in the mind of the original writer ; but on the other hand it 
is to be noted that Bentonia is a name which occurs in Domesday in 
the list of the king's lands in Oxfordshire. The list begins with Besing- 
ton, i. e. Benson, and then after several other names, e. g. Hedinton, 
Cherilintone, Optone and Sciptone, it gives Bentone, which is un- 
doubtedly to be identified with Bampton \ the parish of which lies on 
the north bank of the Thames, some seventeen miles up the river 2 , 
though the church and present village are some two miles away from 
the bank. 

It may, of course, be argued that if the nuns moved from their place 
in Oxford, they ^'may just as well have moved as far as Bampton to 
begin with, and then afterwards moved to Binsey on their way back. 
But if so the detail of the legend as given by^both.the writers, and 
therefore to all appearance belonging to the earlier; copy, is very in- 
consistent, namely that the journey by water was 'um'us. horcE spatio! 
This would take them possibly to Binsey, it could not possibly take 
them seventeen miles to Bampton against stream : while in the after 
history of S. Frideswide's we find that the monastery held land at 
Binsey, but none at Bampton. 

That the nunnery situated in the town might have a ' cell,' as was 
so commonly the case in after years with so many monastic establish- 
ments, is not extraordinary, nor on the other hand would it have been 
strange if the nuns had found the residence in Oxford inconvenient to 
them, and seeking the quiet of the country actually moved thither; 

1 The fourteenth century transcriber of the Lansdowne MS. 436, already re- 
ferred to as introducing the ' wood of Beneseye,' has written Bamptonia instead of 
Bentonia, that being the place he considered to be meant by Benton. 

2 The identification with Abendon, i.e. Abingdon, which has been suggested by 
some writers, has nothing to recommend it except'that one legend speaks of Benton 
being ten mil£s off on the Thames ; and as Abingdon is nearly eight it has been 
thought sufficiently near to warrant the supposition. 

3 So far as has been observed no event in the history of Bampton seems to be 
associated with the story of S.^Frideswide. Whereas as regards Binsey, throughout 
the middle ages the place has belonged to S. Frideswide's monastery and still 
belongs to Christ Church ; and though we do not find mention of S. Margaret's Well 
till a comparatively late date, it is just possible that the direct association of this 
with S. Frideswide's spring, which burst forth in consequence of her prayers, may 
have had its origin in an older tradition. 


and either of these would give rise to the stories which, after all, are 
only so much colouring of facts. Whether S. Frideswide herself moved 
during her lifetime to the quietude of .Binsey, or whether the nuns 
moved after her death, as appears to have been the case with the 
Abingdon nuns who removed to Witham on the death of Cilia, would 
make no difference. Wherever the nuns went* there, as the story 
would be told, would S. Frideswide be said to go. 

We need not be troubled with the fact that no place near bears the 
name of Thornbury now, or that it is found in no other record. One 
answer is, we have no early charters describing the immediate 
surroundings of Binsey, and names of the kind are soon lost. 
On the other hand, the choice of the place is not otherwise than 
reasonable. The water-way was the safest and the easiest in those 
times, and although somewhat circuitous it was no doubt most fre- 
quently adopted. The district is one not unknown previously, if, as 
has been suggested, the Wytham to which the Abingdon nuns removed 
was divided only from Binsey by the Shire ditch, and but half a mile 
between the spots where afterwards the two churches rose. In its 
after history we certainly find the land to be in the possession of the 
monastery of S. Frideswide; whether or not it had been so from 
the first cannot be learnt from the charter of Ethelred in 1004, since 
the possessions then granted may not all be named. When we come 
to the Domesday Survey of 1087, though the record does not include 
Binsey, at the same time it does not exclude it, as it may possibly 
be included in the four hides near Oxford 1 . 

It is further somewhat favourable to this theory that, in King 
Stephen's reign, the meadows to the north of Binsey were chosen 
as a site for a nunnery, which in its day was only second to that of 
S. Frideswide and Oseney, namely Godestow. Merely a ditch sepa- 
rated the parish of Binsey, which may be supposed to represent 
S. Frideswide's property, from the land of the nunnery in which Fair 
Rosamund passed her early years ; while the meadows at the south- 
eastern corner, bearing the name of the middle-eyt (i. e. the middle 
island, or Medley, as it is known commonly, and gives its name to the 
lock which exists there), belonged to the nuns, and there a building was 
erected to which at times they could retire, and which may be said to 

1 The entry is ' Canonici Sanctse Frideswide . . . iiij hidae juxta Oxeneford . . . 
et 100 acrae prati et 8 acrae spineti.' This is so vague that it is just possible the 
' spinney ' was on the Binsey side and was the ' thorn thicket ' referred to. There 
is however no reference to any property on this side of Oxford in the descriptions 
of the land which are attached to the charter of King Ethelred of 1004. 


have borne the same relation to Godestow as Binsey might long 
before have borne to S. Frideswide's. 

Such, then, are the grounds on which there is good reason to 
believe that, in the eighth century, the vill of Oxford, although the name 
appears nowhere else in our Annals, possessed a religious community 
which had settled there, and that besides their property to the south- 
eastern edge of the promontory of the gravel bank already referred to, 
and where their church was erected, they possessed property and 
buildings at the far western extremity of the Mercian soil and so 
bounded on its western side by the Shire ditch. To this in times of 
war with the West Saxon king, when raids upon such a border town 
as Oxford would have been frequent, and rendered the position of the 
nuns unbearable, they could retire. All definite record of this com- 
munity is lost, but it survives in the description given by the monks 
of S. Frideswide in after years of the life of the foundress; it is in 
legendary language, which cannot be construed with any certainty of 
the exact meaning, though it may convey a tolerably clear outline of 
the actual facts. 


Oxford a Border Town during the Eighth and 
Ninth Centuries. 

From what has been said in the last chapter, it is only reasonable 
now to speak of Oxford by name, as a vill of some kind must by this 
time have been existing here on the border of the Thames. There is 
no reason to believe it had been as yet fortified, because if it had 
been, it would most probably have played some part worthy of record 
in the struggles of the eighth and ninth centuries. 

The year after the foundation of S. Frideswide's monastery, the 
good King Ina of Wessex died, but not before he had restored by 
charter to Abingdon the property which through the negligence of 
Hean in carrying out the conditions of the original grant, had been 
practically lost ; and as part of their land was on the Mercian side of 
the Thames, we find in this charter of restoration, or rather in the 
confused abstract of it, which alone has been handed down to us, the 
name of ^Ethelred, the Mercian king, as having granted part of the 
land, and the signatures of ^Ethelbald together with that of Ine 
I amongst those who appear to have attested the charter of confirma- 
tion 1 . This shows that at this time Oxford was a border town, the 
I Thames separating the two kingdoms. 

The long reign of King ^Ethelbald (who had succeeded as early as 
a.d. 716) seems to have begun peacefully, and no difficulties seem to 
have arisen between him and Ina, or Ina's successor ^Ethelheard, who 
ruled the West Saxons from a.d. 728 to 740. Indeed only one battle 
is recorded, namely, in the year 733, and at Sumerton, in these words : — 
' Ann. 773. In this year iEthelbald captured SumurtunV 

It is often difficult to identify places named in the Chronicles, 
especially where they stand alone, and in this case the chronicler has not 
1 even recorded against whom the king was fighting. Two places have 
been fixed on by different historians ; and one of these is the Somerton 
on the Cherwell, about ten miles north of Oxford: such a battle 

1 Hist. Mon. Abingdon, Rolls Series, vol. i. p. 10. Note also ^thelbald's 
Charter, ibid. p. 38. 

2 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles spell this place variously Sumurtun, Sumertun 
and Sumortun. 


would have of course affected Oxford considerably, for it would in- 
volve the supposition of the West Saxon king having previously crossed 
the Thames and made a raid up the Cherwell and occupied Somerton. 

It is, however, very improbable that such a raid would have been 
recorded in the manner in which we find it described in the Chronicle. 
For a king would scarcely be said to capture a place which was in his 
own dominions ; and then, further, there is no trace of any fortress there 
which would have been likely to have caused a siege. Equally im- 
probable is it that iEthelbald would make a long raid across Wiltshire 
and Somersetshire, and fight at Sumerton, south of the Mendip hills, 
which is the second place fixed on by historians. There would have 
been some serious fighting first, and other places would have been 
named, which would have fallen before such a raid was successful. 
The most probable explanation seems to be afforded by Henry of 
Huntingdon, who, in expanding the Chronicle in respect to the events 
of this year, adds ' for he determined to carry his kingdom up to the 
Humber V This being so, we must look rather to the borders of Lin- 
colnshire : and there we find a Sumerton which was in the middle ages 
chosen as the site of a fortress, portions of which still exist 2 . So that 
we may suppose that during the time that JEthelbald and iEthelheard 
were kings of Mercia and Wessex respectively, Oxford was not in any 
way disturbed. 

In the reign of Cuthred, iEthelheard's successor, for some reason or 
another the two kingdoms went to war again. In a.d. 743, the entry 
in the Chronicle describes them as both fighting against the Welsh. 
Whether as allies, or whether each on his own account, we are not 
told. It is just possible that their successes led to their disputing with 
each other. Certain, however, it is that, in the year 752, the Battle of 
Beorgford was fought — a battle vividly described by Henry of Hun- 
tingdon — in which the Mercian king was put to flight. There can be 
no question that this is Burford, about fifteen miles north-west from 
Oxford. The circumstances would have been these. The West Saxon 
king would have crossed the Thames, sweeping very possibly over 
Oxford, and reaching the line of hills on the north, which are in part 
capped by Wychwood Forest ; once having gained these hills he 
would have the whole of the district between them and the Thames at 

1 ' Edelbald igitur rex Mercensis maxima virtute super reges cosetaneos provectus 
omnes provincias Anglioe usque ad Humbram flumen cum suis regibus sibi sub- 
jectas esse voluit et fecit.' Hen. Hunt., Rolls Series, ed. 1879, P- II 5« 

2 Somerton Castle is in the parish of Boothby, eight miles south of Lincoln, and 
on the river Brant, which flows into the Witham near to Lincoln. Edward I. 
granted a licence to crenellate it in 1281. 



his mercy. Standing on the Whitehorse Hill, we can readily take in 
the meaning of this conquest, for the valley of the Thames and its 
tributaries lies at our feet, while in the far distance another line of 
hills appears bounding the horizon, beneath which the vill of Burford 
was situated. Just as the capture of the Berkshire Downs had put 
the Mercian king in possession of the Abingdon arid Wantage district, 
so now the capture of these hills put the West Saxon king in posses- 
sion of the Oxford and Witney district. Of course this was the battle 
of the campaign, and, therefore, duly recorded; and the town of Bur- 
ford, lying beneath the range of hills for which these two armies con- 
tended, receiving its name from the ford across the Windrush, beneath 
the Beorg or fortress, gave the name to the battle. No record 
exists of how Oxford was then treated, but having no fortifications, it 
would probably have submitted and suffered as cities then did before 
a victorious army. The Mercian King JEthelbald seems to have been 
thoroughly routed. 

The next three years witnessed the death of both Cuthred and 
iEthelbald; also the accession to the Mercian kingdom of the great 
King Offa, and to the West Saxon kingdom of Cynulf (Ceolwulf ). It 
is clear that Offa set about gaining back what his predecessors had 
lost, but one great battle only is recorded in the Anglo-Saxon 
Chronicle, namely of a.d. 777. The words are brief : — 

1 a.d. This year Cynewulf and Offa fought about Benesingtun, and 
Offa took the town V 

This, however, is to be read in connection with a passage which 
occurs in the Abingdon History, of which the meaning is probably as 
follows : — 

' When Cynewulf was conquered by Offa, King of the Mercians, in 
battle, King Offa took possession of all those parts which had been 
subject to King Cynewulf s jurisdiction on the southern side [of the 
Thames] from the town of Wallingford, and along the Icknield Street, 
as far as Essebury [i. e. Ashbury], and on the northern side as far as 
the river Thames itself 2 .' 

The district is clearly that to which reference has before been 
made as the Abingdon and Wantage district, i.e. the low ground 
between the Thames and the Berkshire hills. The accuracy of the 
description will be seen readily by turning to the map, better still by 
mounting up to Cwichelmshloewe, the mound covered by the clump 
of trees, so well seen from the neighbourhood of Abingdon, lying as it 

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sub anno. Appendix A, § 33. 

2 Hist. Mon. Abingdon, Rolls Series, ed. Stevenson. London, 1858, vol. i. 
p. 14. Appendix A, § 34. 


does in the midst of the range of the Berkshire downs. It stands 
about midway between Wallingford on the east and Ashbury on the 
west. Starting from Moulsford, which lies on the river a mile or so 
below Wallingford, and mounting by the road on to the top of 
the downs, the great long turf way, called the Icknield Street, 
can be followed almost without intermission along the whole length 
of the ridge passing beneath the foot of Cwichelmshloewe itself and 
within bowshot of the great British fortress of Letcombe, and 
closer still to that of Uffington, and then to within a few yards of the 
old cromlech called Wayland Smith's cave. This is immediately over 
Ashbury, which lies down in the hollow beneath. The great road is 
continued along the downs which extend into Wiltshire for miles 
further, overlooking the W T hitehorse vale beneath. But at this point, 
namely above Ashbury, the line of Offa's conquest seems to have 
ceased. All the way along, at almost every part of the road, the fertile 
plain which was overrun by the Mercian king, can be seen lying 
beneath. The line of the Thames cannot be easily traced by reason 
of the high ground of Cumnor and Bagley Wood, which also hides 
Oxford from the view. On the east, the limit of the conquered ter- 
ritory is a natural one, since the Thames here makes its way through 
a gap in what would otherwise be a continuous range of Berkshire and 
Buckinghamshire downs. It will be observed in the Chronicle the 
place of battle is called Bensington, the old name which is given 
under 577, when the West Saxons drove out the Britons; while in the 
Abingdon Chronicle, the boundary line starts from Wallingford. The 
towns named, however, are scarce two miles apart, but Benson is on 
the Mercian side, Wallingford on the West Saxon side of the river ; the 
former representing access to the Chiltern of Buckinghamshire, the 
latter that to the JEscesdun of Berkshire. 

On the west, however, it does not appear why at this time the 
particular spot, namely Ashbury, should have been chosen to mark 
the limit of the conquest. But it is an interesting circumstance for 
this reason : Ashbury is now the last village westward in the county 
of Berkshire, along this range of hills, and if a line be drawn north- 
ward from that point to the Thames at Lechlade, it will be found to 
follow very nearly the line of demarcation between Berkshire and 
Wiltshire. We have, therefore, here a foreshadowing of the county 
boundary line, before we hear anything of counties. We have not 
even yet heard of the Wilsaetas or of Bearrucscire *, yet Offa's con- 

1 The first mention of the Wilsaetas is under the year 800. The first we obtain 
of Bearrucscire is under the year 860. 



quest was confined to Berkshire. It is perhaps the more remarkable 
because the boundary between the counties at this point follows no 
natural line of demarcation, except for a very short distance (i. e. a 
small portion of a streamlet called the Coin). 

Whether or not the village almost adjoining Ashbury, on the Berk- 
shire side, spelt Offentune in the Domesday Survey, be Offantune, i. e. 
the tun of Offa, and whether it derives its name from this conquest, 
may be reasonably discussed, but cannot be affirmed ; and the further 
question whether the White Horse cut on the hill, which has through 
successive generations been preserved, was the mark then made on 
the hill to denote the extent of the conquest, is a question rather for 
antiquaries to discuss than to settle. 

The result, however, of the battle was that Oxford was once again 
not only a Mercian town but, further than that, as had been the case 
once before, its inhabitants, looking from amidst their dwellings across 
the river, gazed on Mercian territory as far as the eye could reach. 

And Oxford seems to have remained Mercian for some time ; for 
successive kings of Mercia extended rather than otherwise their king- 
dom, which might now have absorbed the whole island, as it had 
threatened once before to do. But Ecgbryht, who had succeeded to 
Wessex in 800, was energetically extending that kingdom also, both 
west and east. The battle at Ellendun 1 in 823 is thought to imply 
that the Mercians meanwhile had already extended their kingdom 
into Wiltshire but were now driven out, and at the same time the 
West Saxon king while driving the Mercians out of Wessex, extended 
his kingdom into Kent. All the country on the south side of the 
Thames seemed to submit readily to his arms ; while the Mercians 
had found another formidable enemy in the East Angles. Then, under 
the year 827, the Chronicle records that Ecgbryht conquered the king- 
dom of Mercia, and thus laid the foundation of the single kingdom 
of England. The result, however, can scarcely be said to have made 
Oxford again West Saxon ; rather it became what is best understood 
by the comprehensive name English, because, though as yet by no 
means all the kingdoms had become definitely united in one, yet so far 

1 Usually ascribed to one of the Allingtons in Wiltshire. That to the south- 
east of Amesbury may be put out of the question. That to the north-west of 
Chippenham, and that to the east of Devizes might have each something to be said 
for them : the first of the two looking forward to the Danish battle-ground of 
878 ; the second looking, perhaps, back to the battles of 592 and 715, supposing 
that Woddesborough is Woodborough, an outlying hill on the south of the 
high range of the Marlborough Downs. Still there is little to support either view ; 
it is more likely a battle fought on some ' dun ' of which the name has not been 
handed down to us. 



as the special district of Oxford was concerned, there were no more 
troubles in store for the place in consequence of its being a border 
town. The ruler of Mercia continued, it is true, to bear the title of 
king for some little while after, but Buhred was an independent 
king rather in name than in fact. Except, therefore, in the event of 
internal rebellion it might have been supposed Oxford would have 
been safe from all assault. 


Oxford during the Danish Incursions in the 
Ninth and Tenth Centuries. 

Although Oxford was, as has been seen, no longer subject to the 
danger consequent on being a border town, a new and unlooked-for peril 
arose from it being situated on a navigable river. No sooner did in- 
ternal struggles seem to have come to an end than a new and foreign foe 
began harassing the country. The Danes, it may be presumed, having 
heard of the prosperity of their old neighbours the Saxons and the 
Angles in the new country, thought well to join them. But they were 
met by difficulties, for the whole land had practically been partitioned out, 
and therefore whatever they desired they would have to gain by conquest, 
much in the same way as the former settlers had gained it, from the 
British occupants: and the task of the Danes now was of course 
much harder than that of the Saxons and their fellow-settlers some 
four hundred years previously. The peculiarity of their warfare in the 
earlier years of their invasion was by sailing up estuaries and rivers, 
ravaging the country, seizing whatever towns lay on the banks, and 
then returning to their ships. We must suppose they brought over 
with them a fleet of boats of shallow draft suitable for the purpose. 
Between the years 832 and 837 Wessex seems to have been attacked 
on all sides, first at Sheppey on the east, at Charmouth on the south, 
and then on the west by the enemy sailing up the Bristol Channel, where 
they found ready allies in the still unconquered Welsh. Egbert lived 
to see his great work of pacification neutralised, and during the twenty 
years of his successor's reign (837-857) the raids were continued with 
increased vigour. We find the Danes landing at Southampton, then 
in the isle of Portland ; next as far north as Lindsey : then in East 
Anglia ; then in Kent, then at Charmouth again, and then again at the 
mouth of the Parret. In 851 they ventured up the Thames as far as 
London, and their victories increasing, they began after this to carry 
their ravages inland, e. g. into Surrey ; but still not far from the river, to 
which they could retire and take refuge in their boats. These annual 
voyages over the Northern Ocean occasioning them loss and delay, in 




855 they began to winter here, so as to begin their work of depreda- 
tion early in the spring, or perhaps earlier if the frost allowed : and the 
result was that places far more inland began to suffer. And, what was 
worst of all, they had found an asylum amongst the East Angles, who 
appear to have bought their own peace and quietness at the expense 
of the rest of the kingdom, as it gave the 'heathen army' (as the 
Chronicles usually describe the Danes) an admirable base for their 
operations. From this base they were in 868 enabled to seize upon 
Nottingham and even take up their winter quarters there. The tribu- 
tary king of Mercia attempted to drive them out, and called the West 
Saxon king to his aid, but without success. York followed Nottingham 
in 869, and Peterborough in 870, when they devastated the glorious 
abbey, known then as Medeshampstead ; and in 871 they ventured 
much further than they had ever done before up the Thames. 

Had they succeeded in this more important raid than any which 
perhaps they had as yet attempted, Oxford would no doubt have 
fallen a prey, and we should most likely have found its name appear- 
ing in the pages of history some forty years earlier than is the case. 
But Reading bears the honour of saving, for the present at least, the 
Upper Thames district from their ravages. 

The circumstances were these. At Reading the Danes seem to have 
left their boats and encamped on the bank of gravel in the angle 
formed between the Kennet and the Thames, which, just 250 years 
after, was chosen as the site of the great Reading Abbey 1 . The tem- 
porary fortress which they made, or which they found to hand, was 
suddenly threatened by ^Ethelred, king of Wessex, who in company 
with his brother JSlfred, having heard of their design, had marched 
to meet them and prevent their further progress up the Thames. 
Whatever might have been their first intention, it is clear that when 
they saw the advantages of gaining the ridge of the Berkshire Hills, the 
before-named JEscesdun, a large portion of their number made for it 
by the way of Englefield. At this village, however, they were met by 
the ealdorman ^Ethelwulf, and driven back to their camp at Reading. 
Here they for a time withstood the assault of ^Ethelred and JElfred, 
who next day came up, most probably by the line of road skirting the 
south bank of the Thames. The position of the Danes was a pre- 
carious one, in this triangular space with the two sides surrounded by 
the rivers and a strong force assaulting the third side. Had there 

1 The foundation of Reading Abbey dates from 11 21, though the charters 
assigning them their property are not dated till 11 25. The great abbey church 
itself was not completed ready for consecration till 1163. 


been the few only who had been left behind in the first instance, they 
might have taken to their boats and fled directly they found the 
Wessex king was approaching, but as the whole of the army were 
here, in consequence of the repulse at Englefield, and as they had 
been rendered bold by previous victories, they gave fight to ^Ethelred, 
and rushing out they broke through the West Saxon lines and made 
for the hills. There was no JSthelwulf now to bar their way at Engle- 
field. He had come up with his forces to join JSthelred, and had 
unhappily been slain. 

At night the Danes reached the ridge, by much the same road no 
doubt as can still be traced on the map from Englefield up to 
Lowbury, a spot where they found a camp to their hands, and which 
from recent excavations is shown to have been previously occupied in 
Roman times 1 . JSthelred and iElfred however lost no time. The 
latter knew the country well. Born at Wantage, beneath the very range 
now before him, it is not improbable that from his early years he was 
acquainted with the roads and distances. 

Returning along the road by which he had come, as far perhaps as 
Moulsford, J^thelred mounted the hill by a straight road, which seems 
to have left behind it traces still to be seen on the map, and as we 
gather from Asser's Chronicle, before sunset gained another part of the 
rising ground 2 , a little to the north-east of that occupied by the Danes. 
In the early morning, since the Danes had not anticipated such vigour 
on the part of the West Saxons, they were not prepared for battle, 
and thus by the clever tactics of JElfred and the prowess of his 
men, they met with a severe defeat; a king, several 'jarls/ and many 
thousands of the enemy were slain. It is the first important defeat we 
read of in the annals of their incursions: the battle of 871 not only 
saved Oxford, but saved the whole of the Abingdon and Wantage district 
from being pillaged by the Danes. No fortified towns then appear to 
have existed to prevent their devastating the country wherever they went. 

It was at this time that iElfred became king. Through all the 
entries in the Chronicle during the twenty-nine years of his reign, there 
is no statement which implies, directly or indirectly, that Alfred came 

1 The camp, though small, must have been intended for a lengthened occupa- 
tion, for at one comer remains of buildings have been discovered (1884) : Roman 
coins (of late date), abundance of pottery, and the invariable oyster-shells, testify 
sumcently to the square earthworks (still partially visible) having been once 
a sojourning place ©f the Romans. 

2 Curiously enough, on the map it is marked as the < King's standing ground.' 
The name unfortunately cannot be connected with yEthelred's days, but is supposed 
to be associated with the ' Fair mile ' on which racehorses were trained early in the 
present century. 

I % 


to Oxford, or indeed nearer to it than his marches along the line of 
the Berkshire Hills would bring him. He is continually fighting the 
Danes, and with more or less success, on the eastern and western ex- 
tremities of the old kingdom of Wessex, and it is most probably as much 
due to the fact of his having in previous years provided a fleet, as to the 
treaty which he made with Guthrum after the fight at Ethandune in 878, 
that the Danish incursions were much checked, and that they did not 
again venture up the Thames so far as Oxford during his reign. 

In the reign however of his successor, Eadward the Elder, they seem 
to have burst over Mercia from the old district of the East Angles, 
which, as has been already said, they were allowed to occupy. It 
seems that in 905 they went westward, so as to reach Cricklade, probably 
not by the Thames valley, but across Mercia. King Eadward pursued 
them as far as he was able, and retaliated by overrunning East Anglia. 

It is perhaps impossible to define exactly the position which the 
kingdoms held towards one another, or to the chief kingdom of the 
West Saxons at this particular time. It has been seen how the East 
Angles had independently made peace with the Danes, and how the 
latter had been using that territory as a base from which to make in- 
cursions upon Mercia; and it will be noticed that at times Mercia made 
peace also, as it were independently : and now, in 91 2, the year in which 
we find Oxford first mentioned, the entry in the Chronicle stands as 
follows : — 

'This year died iEthered ealdorman of the Mercians, and king 
Eadward took possession of London and of Oxford and of all the 
lands which owed obedience thereto.' 

' This year iEthelflaed, lady of the Mercians, came to Scaer-gate on 
the holy eve, Invention of the Holy Cross, and there built the burh ; 
and the same year that at Bridge[north] V 

As to what is implied politically by the phrase 'took possession of 
will be considered later on ; but there is little doubt it had an imme- 
diate and practical effect on the town of Oxford : although the fact is 
not here stated, the surrounding circumstances point very strongly to 
this being the date when Oxford was fortified. It would appear that 
in 9 1 1 Mercia had been again overrun by the Danes, who seem this 
time to have made Northumbria the base of their operations ; and on 
the death of ./Ethered the ealdorman of Mercia, his widow, the lady 

1 The first paragraph is found under this year in the five earliest of the Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicles. The sixth has the same paragraph under the year 910. The 
second paragraph is only found in the second and third Chronicle in order of date, 
and these, as will be seen later, are referred to under the letters B and C. Ap- 
pendix A, § 35. 


JEthelflaed, seems to have erected fortifications on all the rivers likely 
to be ascended by them. In 9 10 she had built the 'burh' at Bremesbury. 
In 912, at Scargate and at Bridgnorth on the Severn. In 913, King 
Eadward constructed the 'burh' at Hertford on the Lea, and the 
Lady iEthelflsed that at Tamworth ; and in the ne^xt year that at Eddes- 
bury and Warwick ; and in the next at Cyricbury, Weardbury, and 
Runcorn, and so on. The Chronicle for several years presents a record 
of the Danes attacking places, and either Eadward or his sister iEthel- 
flsed defending them, and building fortresses for their defence. Before 
this time the mention of the ' burh ' or fortress is rare in regard to a 
town, and no case is recorded of any being built. 

This date then it is thought with some reason may be applied to the 
fortification of Oxford, inasmuch as it seems to fit in with the series 
which are spoken of as fortified for the first time. 

And if it is asked what was the probable nature of the fortifications, 
it may be replied that analogy leads us to attribute the castle hill, which 
still exists, to this particular date. For comparing several places to- 
gether mentioned in the above list the one common feature is a conical 
mound of earth. Those nearest to Oxford, i. e. Tamworth and War- 
wick, overlooking respectively the Avon and a tributary of the Trent 
called the Tame, possess mounds remarkably similar to that at Oxford, 
the former being somewhat more lofty and larger, the latter somewhat 
smaller. But at Warwick the early mound has been subjected more to 
the system of the fourteenth century fortification of the castle, and from 
its position above a rapid slope has been incorporated so to speak in 
the line of wall. At Tamworth it has been left more in its pristine 
shape, and the ditches surrounding it remain much more perfect, and 
in one part masonry which may be coeval with the original structure 
remains against the inner edge. 

The following description is given of the fortification of Rumcofa, 
i. e. Runcorn in Cheshire, and one of the series : — 

* Its situation was judiciously chosen by Ethelfleda queen of the 
Mercians for the foundation of a town and castle, erected in 916; for 
here, by a projection of a tongue of land from the Lancashire side, the 
bed of the Mersey is suddenly contracted from a considerable breadth 
to a narrow channel, easily commanded from the shore. It was just 
opposite to this gap, as it is called, that Ethelfleda built the last of the 
range of castles by which she protected the borders of her extensive 
domain, and though no vestige of the building remain, its site is 
marked by the name of the Castle given to a triangular piece of land 
surrounded by a mound of earth, jutting out into the river, guarded on 
the water-side by ledges of rocks and broken precipices, and cut off 


from the land by a ditch at least six yards wide. This fortress, in its 
entire state must have afforded an excellent defence against the naval 
inroads of the Danes, who ran up the rivers with their fleets at this 
period and committed the most cruel ravages V 
In the other places which have been identified, the mounds are 
more or less a prominent feature ; some are natural and some arti- 
ficial, but in the former case no doubt scarping and similar work was 
resorted to in order to render them more efficacious 2 . 

One or two considerations suggest themselves respecting the general 
character of the fortifications of the town of Oxford. Admirably 
situated as it was in respect of repelling attacks from land forces, 
with the Thames on the west and south, and the Cherwell on the 
east, it was dangerously open towards the north. In all probability a 
fosse of some kind was excavated separating the southern end from 
the rest of the gravel promontory, and following no doubt generally 
the line occupied afterwards by the northern wall of the city, but when 
this was first done there is no means whatever for ascertaining. It 
should also be borne in mind that, at this time, although in their 
ravages the Danes freely used their boats, Oxford had still some pro- 
tection on these three sides ; the main stream of the Thames does 
not seem in any part to have washed the gravel bank on which 
Oxford was built. Even up to Elizabeth's reign, as shown in Agas' 
map, something more than ditches joined the Trill mill stream on the 
west with the Cherwell on the east, on either side of the ground after- 
wards occupied by the Broad Walk; and the excavation for the 
construction of the new buildings at Christ Church facing the meadow 
showed the presence of a stream, which must have washed close by 
the enclosure of S. Frideswide's 3 . 

In following the course of the Thames along the western side of 
Oxford, though it may be doubted if ever the main stream was that 
which is now known as the Shire-ditch, on the other hand, the proba- 
bilities are that it was never the easternmost of the seven streams which 

1 Aikin's Forty Miles round Manchester, 1795, p. 417. 

2 There are difficulties in the identification of several of the names. Bremesbury 
is assigned to Bramsbury in Lincolnshire. Scargate has been guessed to be Sarrat 
in Hertfordshire, on the Chess, a tributary of the Colne ; but there is nothing to 
recommend the identification. As to Hertford there can be no doubt as to the two 
• burns,' and this was specially important on account of the meeting of the three 
streams. Cyricbury has been identified with Cherbury in Shropshire ; and Weard- 
burh has been supposed to be Warborough in Oxfordshire, but this is very 
improbable. 1 Eadesbyrig ' is probably Eddisbury in Cheshire. All the burhs 
which can be identified seem to be at or near the Mercian frontier, or readily 
accessible by the rivers. 

3 See paper by Mr. Conradi, Oxford Arch, and Hist. Proceedings, 1863, New 
Series, vol. i. p. 217. 


the road to Botley crossed, and which gave it the name of the Seven - 
Bridge Road. So again with respect to the Cherwell ; there probably 
ran between the main stream and Oxford one or two smaller streams ; 
and two of these may now be seen enclosing Magdalen Water- walks. 
The result generally speaking, therefore, was that Oxford was sur- 
rounded on the south and west and east by whaf was probably marsh 
land, and which could readily be changed into a swamp by damming 
up here and there a portion of the several streams which intersected 
it. This of course would afford great natural protection to a place, as 
besiegers would fight under great disadvantages. 

But still, without a fortress Oxford would have been much at the 
mercy of the Danes, and a spot therefore appears to have been chosen, 
and the mound, with accompanying ditches, was constructed; the earth 
thrown out from them provided material for the mound, there being 
no natural rise of the ground of any consequence in this direction. 

This was the Castle. The circumstances which led to the western 
edge of the town being chosen instead of the south-eastern corner, 
which would have guarded the mouth of the Cherwell as well as the 
Thames, are not apparent. Divested of nearly all its buildings, and 
with the streams probably more numerous than they are now, and 
with undrained land surrounding the greater part of the town, the 
place must have presented so different an aspect from what it does 
now, that it would be futile to attempt to argue the question whether 
the military engineer of those days did wisely or unwisely in fixing on 
the spot which he did. 

And while speaking of the fortifications, it might probably be 
thought well that something should here be said upon what there was 
existing at this time to fortify. The probabilities are, that though the 
space available for occupation was practically marked out by nature, 
there were, at this date, but few houses built upon it. Most towns 
appear to have had a nucleus which has in some measure determined 
the position and shape which they afterwards assumed. Sometimes it 
has been a castle, as at Warwick, at the back of which the town has 
grown up, till eventually it has been walled round and made separate 
and distinct from the castle. At others it has encircled some religious 
foundation, as at Coventry. In Oxford, at the time spoken of, it is not 
at all clear whether the religious establishment was still one of nuns, 
or whether it had been changed into a monastery, or whether it was 
of sufficient importance to have gathered round it any extensive popu- 
lation ; but in all probability whatever were so gathered, lay above it 
on the slope between the northern enclosure wall and the road which 


afterwards came to be the High Street ; this group of houses would 
be bounded on the western side by the road which afterwards had 
the name of Southgate Street, then Fish Street, and in later years 
S. Aldate's. 

There is not much likelihood of a road such as this having 
materially changed its position, and one or two considerations suggest 
themselves in connection with it. To all appearance there could 
scarcely have been any other line of road across the South Hincksey 
meadows than that occupied by the present causeway, and it may be 
taken for granted also that Folly Bridge, which takes the place of the 
old ' Grand-pount,' occupies the site very nearly, if not exactly, of the 
older fords over the shallow streams which intersected those meadows. 
Possibly, indeed it may be said probably, this was the original ford 
from which the town derived its name. 

As long as Mercia and Wessex were two distinct kingdoms, it is 
not so probable, though of course possible, that a road of great 
importance would have been made across the river at this point, but 
on the union of the two kingdoms such would have been of a ' first 
necessity,' both for commercial and military purposes 1 . It is true the 
rivers were themselves the chief means of communication, but of 
course they were first of all restricted to the few, who could afford 
to possess or to hire boats ; and next the traffic depended much on 
the seasons ; in the time of heavy rains the rivers would be so swollen 
and the banks so overflowed that the lading and unlading boats would 
present as many difficulties as the passage of the boats themselves 
would in dry seasons when there was not sufficient water in the 
streams to float them. The roads, therefore, must have supplemented 
the rivers in the way of traffic to a considerable degree, and the 
country people no doubt made use of such ways, tracks and paths, 
more or less available according as the reeves and other shire officers 
provided them. Further, there is some reason to suppose, that one of 
the direct lines from the north-west to London, in the eleventh cen- 
tury, and possibly in the tenth century, passed by Oxford ; the road 
up to this point would have been carried across the district north 

1 The making and repairing of roads and bridges were amongst the three charges 
always retained on estates when all others might be remitted. The trinoda neces- 
sitas, as it was called, consisted of — (i) Bryge-bot, i.e. for repairing roads and 
bridges; (2) Burgbot, for repairing fortifications; and (3) Fyrd, for providing 
the military and naval forces for the defence of the kingdom. These charges are 
referred to frequently in the early charters, and in all probability, on the annexation 
of the portion of Mercia, one of Eadward's first cares would have been to have 
Seen that there were good roads provided for communication. 


of the Thames, but at Oxford, crossing the Thames and following the 
line of the Thames valley, would have been continued southward. 
This would be the road already referred to as crossing the ford at 
the point where Folly Bridge now exists ; it would cross the South 
Hincksey meadows, and then pursue its course beneath the rising 
ground, by one or other of the many roads which intersect this district 1 . 

This road, then, which gave access from Wessex, passed through the 
centre of Oxford; leaving the river, it skirted the enclosure of S. Frides- 
wide on the eastern side, and gradually ascended the sloping gravel 
bank in a northerly direction, where it was met by another road 
which, coming from the east, connected Oxford with the Wal- 
lingford district. The road from Berkshire crossed this, and being 
continued gave access to the North, and formed the most natural 
outlet, so to speak, for Oxford as long as it was in Mercian territory 2 . 
In all probability on either side of this, as far as the site of the North 
Gate, houses lay scattered here and there at this time when Oxford was 
fortified. On the erection of the castle, however, the buildings which 
may have been hitherto few in a westerly direction would grow up 
thickly, on the eastern bank of the castle ditch, and by degrees plots 
of ground with a solitary building would give way to rows of houses 
thickening as they neared the castle, thinning as they neared Carfax. 

Thus in a natural way the four quarters of Oxford would be formed. 
First of all the south-eastern would have been most occupied because 
of S. Frideswide's; next, portions of the north-western and south- 
western on account of the castle ; the north-eastern would probably 
have been left more open for a longer time than any. 

Although somewhat anticipating the record, it must be adduced 
here, as one important fact in the evidence bearing upon the growth 
of Oxford, that the first parish church of which we find mention is 
S. Martin's, which is situated at the meeting of the roads, and, as 
before stated, at the highest point on the gravel bank ; and it may be 
noted in passing, that although there was no other S. Martin necessi- 
tating a distinctive term, it seems for long to have borne the appel- 
lation of S. Martin's at Carfax, and indeed Carfax church. But 
further, it is essentially, and always has been, the city church; hence no 
doubt sustaining the privileges which it had acquired from being the 

1 The line of road on the west and south of the Thames in this part cannot now 
be followed, owing to the many alterations which have taken place as different 
properties became enclosed. 

2 It will be observed that the road leading into Oxford on the north, and passing 
by Cutslow, is referred to in one of the boundaries attached to S. Frideswide's 
Charter of 1004 as • the Port-way,' i.e. the town road. 


first parish church in the city. Other circumstances are corro- 
borative of the position assigned to it, inasmuch as there is good 
evidence of the Port-mannimots, or Town Councils, having been 
held in the churchyard, which was once, and before sundry encroach- 
ments, of much greater extent than now. 

On looking at the map it will be at once seen how this central spot 
is evenly surrounded by the parish which belongs to it, and how that 
in its turn forms the nucleus round which other parishes cluster ; and 
although the division of the parishes belongs to a period much later 
than that under consideration, the circumstances just mentioned all 
hang together, and bring out into prominence the importance of the 
three elements in the formation of the plan of Oxford, namely, the 
crossing of the roads at Carfax in the centre, S. Frideswide's in the 
south-eastern quarter, the Castle on the low ground at the far western 
extremity. The following hundred and fifty years made no doubt 
a great change in the aspect of Oxford, but it was probably not till 
Robert D'Oilgi's time that the outline of the town became clearly 
defined by fortifications and boundaries, or marked out definitely by its 
streets ; but the growth was along the old original lines, the erection 
of the castle being an important factor not only in the formation of 
the plan of the town, but in its progress towards that importance 
which we find it had attained in the eleventh century. 

Before continuing the record of events, it is thought well also to say 
a few words respecting the authority of the passage which has been 
quoted, representing, as it does, the earliest historical mention of 
Oxford. And it is considered to be of all the more importance from 
the circumstance that several pages of this treatise have been occupied 
in exhibiting the worthless character of so much which passes for 
history ; hence it is necessary to point out distinctly the grounds on 
which this passage is accepted as true history, while so many have 
been absolutely rejected. And what is here said will, in a measure, 
apply to some of the other facts narrated later on, though not perhaps 
in the same degree, as to the passage in question. 

That passage is the first mention of Oxford in the chief record 
we possess of events which took place in the tenth century. For 
convenience it is called ' The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle/ and while for 
some reasons that title best describes it, there is the further reason 
that it has, since the invention of printing it is believed, always been 
referred to by that title. But while using the name it must not be 
overlooked that there are several Chronicles, or rather several editions 
of the one Chronicle, all of which very much resemble one another in 


the earlier part, but gradually differ more and more, because being 
kept in different monasteries events more or less local became tran- 
scribed into one which were not transcribed into others 1 . 

This series of Chronicles then, included under this one name, com- 
prise, when taken altogether, the period from the invasion by Caesar to 
the end of King Stephen's reign. We know nothing of the personality 
of the authors, but there is good reason to suppose that there was 
one record, compiled officially from all the available sources, about 
the time of King Alfred, and then carried on by different but con- 
temporary compilers. 

The internal evidence derived from a comparison of the various 
MSS. would fix the general compilation about the time named ; but 
we have, besides, the record of the Norman poet of the twelfth century, 
Geoffrey Gaimar, which is not to be despised, who refers distinctly to 
it being compiled under the direction of King Alfred, and chained in 
the Bishop's palace at Winchester 2 . 

Of the manuscripts which we possess of this valuable Anglo-Saxon 
Chronicle, the chief in importance as to date is that (A) preserved in 
the library of Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, extending from 
the invasion by Caesar to the year 891, and there is little reason to 
doubt but that the MS. itself is absolutely of this latter date ; in other 
words, that we have the Chronicle as the chronicler left it, brought 
down to his own time, and are not dependent upon a later copyist, 
which is so generally the case with our early records. There are inter- 
polations by a later hand, seemingly of the twelfth century, and con- 
tinuations by several hands, belonging to the various periods which 
the history covers, but the difference of the handwriting is clearly 
marked. It is very possible that this is the identical copy referred to 
by Gaimar, as having been written by Alfred's order and chained up 
at Winchester. 

Another MS. (B) of a century later, and preserved amongst the 
Cottonian MSS. (the reference is Tiber. A. vi) is written in the same 
handwriting down to the year 977. It formerly belonged to the 
monastery of S. Augustine at Canterbury. 

1 Although in most cases it is thought sufficient to speak of it as the Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicle, in some cases the term Anglo-Saxon Chronicles will be used, 
and the particular Chronicle referred to by an index letter. 

2 ' A Chronicle by name, a great book ; The English compiled it. Now it is of 
such authority, that at Winchester, in the Bishop's Palace, There of Kings is the 
true history, and the lives, and the memoirs. Alfred the King had it in his posses- 
sion, and had it fixed by a chain, So that any one who wished to read it, could 
well look at it, But could not from its place at all remove it.' Geoffrey Gaimar ; 
L'Estorie des Engles, line 2332. 



Two more (C, D) of the eleventh century are preserved also in the 
Cottonian collection (the references being respectively Tiber B. i and 
Tiber B. iv); one is in the same handwriting to the year 1046, and is 
continued by a later hand to 1066; the other is in the same hand to 
1 01 6, and is continued to 1079. The former of these is called by 
Josselyn the Abingdon Chronicle, and it may well have been kept 
there, and the latter part been compiled in the monastery itself. 

There is one (E) in the Bodleian Library (the reference being 
Laud 636), written in one hand to 11 22, with additions made by 
various hands to the year 11 54. This, from the circumstance of 
several charters belonging to the Peterborough monastery being tran- 
scribed into it, seems to have been preserved there. 

Lastly, there is one (F) in the Cottonian collection (Domit. A. viii), 
written in the twelfth century and more carelessly than the others. 

There is also a Fragment of another copy of the eleventh century in 
the same collection. 

There are additions and variations in all, so that it would appear 
that there were several copies distributed about the ninth century ; of 
these, only one absolutely remains, while others have formed the 
basis from which MSS. B to E, and others, have been copied, with 
the additions which progress of time had rendered necessary, and 
with interpolations which acquaintance with other records had enabled 
their possessors to make. 

It will thus be seen that we have for the greater part of the period 
which has to be traversed, what may be called distinctly contemporary 
authority, and in some cases a consensus of that authority ; very dif- 
ferent from the material on which the writers have relied who carry 
back the history of Oxford to King Mempric, or that of the JJniversity 
to the Greek scholars, or to King Alfred. Remembering too the 
evidence we have of the Chronicle being compiled by order of King 
Alfred, and the probability that we have the very copy chained up by 
his command at Winchester, it would have indeed been strange that 
had he founded Oxford, or built any college there, that no note what- 
ever should have been inserted in that Chronicle. 

As a matter of fact, however, in none of these MSS., either in the 
original writing or in the interpolations by later hands, does the name 
of Oxford once occur until the year 912, and then the one circum- 
stance is recorded about Oxford which has already been quoted. 
This passage, exactly as it has been given, is found in all the six MSS. 
named, although in MS. F it is inserted (probably erroneously) under 
the events of the year 910. 


Besides these different copies of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle we have 
the writings of several historians of the twelfth century who have made 
use of them in the histories which they wrote, adding all the informa- 
tion which was obtainable from other sources at that time. One or 
two of the chief of these will be briefly noticed. First among them in 
point of date stands Florence of Worcester. He died in the year 
1 1 18, but his Chronicle was continued by another hand to the year 
1 131; and, in one or two MSS., to ten years later still 1 . He uses 
some copy (possibly a different one from any we possess) of the 
Chronicle between 455 and 597, and then chiefly Beda, inserting from 
lives of saints, till 732, when he returns to the Chronicle, but still 
intersperses many notes derived from the lives of saints. Further on, 
he makes use of Asser's Life of Alfred as already said, and, besides 
the legends of saints, material derived from other sources. Again, it 
is to be observed that he has found no mention of Oxford worthy of 
\ record till he comes to this same year, 912. 

His record of this year does not exactly follow the Anglo-Saxon 
Chronicle, but stands thus : — 

'dcccc.xii. iEthered, earl and patrician, lord and under-king of the 
Mercians, a man of excellent worth, after having done many good 
deeds, died. After his death his wife iEgelfleda, daughter of King 
Alfred, for some time most firmly held rule over the kingdom of the 
Mercians, except London and Oxford, which cities her brother King 
Eadward kept in his own power 2 .' 

In the Chronicle of Simeon of Durham, which terminates in 11 19 
(and there is reason to suppose the writer did not live long after- 
wards), the first mention of Oxford is in connection with the same 
event : it is simply a translation of one of the Chronicles, and as he 

I puts it under the year 910 he has probably followed a Chronicle of 

( the type referred to as F : — 

' King Edward took possession of London and Oxford and all which 
belong thereto .' 

Next in order must be named Henry of Huntingdon. He issued 
the first edition (so to speak) of his history in 1135, and had ample 

1 There are three MSS. existing as early as the twelfth century, and two or three 
i besides of the thirteenth century. The oldest is perhaps that in Corpus Christi 
| Library in Oxford ; it once belonged to Worcester : the next that in the Lambeth 

Library; it belonged originally to Abingdon Abbey. 

2 Florence of Worcester Chronicon, sub anno. Mon. Hist. Brit., p. 569. 
I Appendix A. § 36. 

3 Simeon of Durham Historia, sub anno. Mon, Hist. Brit. p. 686. Only one MS. 
I exists of the twelfth century, i.e. in C.C.C. Library, Cambridge. Appendix A. § 37. 



opportunities for examining all the sources of history which the king- 
dom could afford. His first mention of Oxford, again, is under the 
year 912, and to the same purport as Simeon of Durham; but his 
translation, or rather summary, from the Anglo-Saxon is different from 
that of the other two : — 

' In the following year, Edred earl of Mercia having died, King 
Edward seized London and Oxford, and all the land belonging to the 
Mercian province 1 .' 
Geoffrey Gaimar, to whom reference has already been made, must 
be added to the list of twelfth-century historians who have gone over 
this ground, and incorporated or extended the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 
The Estorie which we possess begins with the arrival of Cerdic, and 
ends with the death of William II, 1100. He composed his history 
soon after the middle of the twelfth century, and was prepared to add 
to it the life of Henry I., but did not do so. 

His first mention of Oxford is also under the same year, and the 
following is an English rendering of his version of the story : — 
'Just at this time there died a king; his name 

Was Edelret; who o'er the Mercians ruled. 

This Edelret o'er London too, held sway : 

Elveret [Alfred] the King it was who placed him there, 

He had received it not in heritage. 

When near to death he did that which was wise, 

He rendered to King Eadward his just right 

With everything which did thereto belong; 

London he yielded, ere he yet was dead, 

The city, too, he gave, of Oxeneford, 

And with them all the country and the shires 

Which to the cities did belong 2 .' 

There are others of the twelfth century, who copy the Chronicles 
direct or incorporate the above-named into their own histories; and 
later on numerous chroniclers, some of them of great esteem, of 
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, go over the period from 
Augustine to the Conquest ; and, in some cases, while copying the 
substance of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, either directly or at second 
hand from the twelfth century chronicles, vary it ; but their variations 
and interpolations as regards the early period, are obviously not 
worthy of any especial consideration, and certainly are not to be 
accepted as authorities when we can go ourselves to the very source 
whence they derived their information. These therefore are not noticed. 

1 Henry of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum, Rolls Series, 1879, p. 155. There 
are several MSS. of the twelfth and thirteenth century. Appendix A. § 38. 

2 Geoffrey Gaimar, V Estorie des Engles, line 3477. Printed in Monmnenta 
Hist. Britannica, p. 807. Appendix A. § 39. 


It will be observed that the one event which has yet been recorded 
from the Chronicle directly naming Oxford, is told in a slightly 
different way by one or two of the twelfth century chroniclers. It does 
not appear at all certain that they had any further data whatever for 
their conclusions than we have now, but they deduce what they add 

j by way of expansion from other parts of the Chronicle. Florence of 
Worcester, by taking into account the entry in the Chronicle under 
the year 918, in which ^Ethelflsed is recorded to have died c in the 
eighth year of her lordship over the Mercians/ easily deduces the fact 

i that Eadward did not at once take possession of all Mercia. Henry 

j of Huntingdon, it will be observed on the other hand, is less careful, 
adding to the taking of Oxford, 'all the land belonging to the Province 

l| of Mercia/ possibly reading the word 'thereto' as referring to the 
Mercians, instead of as referring to London and Oxford. By itself the 
passage might bear his interpretation, but taken in connection with other 
circumstances, that of Florence is no doubt the right one. Geoffrey 

I of Gaimar in the course of his expansion introduces, as will have been 

j observed, other considerations, but such as may be deduced from pre- 
vious passages in the Chronicle, and by no means necessarily implying 

I any reference to further records than those which we possess. 

In order to gauge the value of these variations some few con- 

I siderations must be taken into account, in respect of London as well 
\\ as of Oxford, since they are both named together. 

; I It will be remembered that the year after the battle of ^Escesdun 
[ in 871, which saved Oxford, the Danish army, which had again 

I I assembled at Reading, were driven down the Thames to London, 
Jand there took up their winter quarters, through the cowardice of 
[ the Mercians, who readily made peace with them. In 878, after 
I the fighting in the neighbourhood of Chippenham, where Alfred 

[made 'a peace' with Guthrum *, London appears, so far as the 
i I boundary line goes, to have been left outside the Danish territory, 
but whether or not it was made free at this time, it is clear that 
I the Danes were shortly afterwards driven out from the city, for 
j under the year 886 Alfred is recorded in the Chronicles to have ' set 
! [in order' (gesette) London; this is translated by the historians 'restau- 

| 1 Generally called the Peace of Wedmore ; but it is difficult to see on what 
grounds. It is true that one of the Articles of the Peace was Guthrum's baptism, 
which took place near to Athelney, and afterwards Alfred invited him on a twelve 

j days' visit to Wedmore where his 'chrism losing' took place. But the 'Peace' 
must have been made and signed some time before the visit, probably immediately 
after the battle of Ethandune and in the neighbourhood of Chippenham where the 
Danish head-quarters seem to have been. 


ravit V an d it implies, perhaps, that the fortifications which had been 
destroyed by the Danes were renewed. The Chronicle also adds, 
' Alfred then committed the burh to the keeping of the ealdorman 
JEthered.' So far we see Gaimar has distinct authority for the state- 
ment that Alfred had placed J3thered there {mis i I'aveii) ; but there 
follows : — ' he had it not in heritage.' Possibly what is meant is, that 
since London and the adjacent country had been practically severed 
from Mercia, the ealdorman had no rights whatever over it, and that 
-Mfred having won back the city from the Danes, he had as it were 
granted it to JEthered for his lifetime only, and therefore it was due to 
be given back to Alfred's heirs at his death. The words of Florence 
also 'kept in his power' (sibi retinuif) imply the same thing, that is to 
say, the city was already in his possession. 

Indeed the word in the Chronicle translated 'took possession of 
seems to have a special meaning. The expression of Simeon of 
Durham, suscepii, and that of Henry of Huntingdon, sam'vzf, taken in 
its legal sense, are nearer to the original. The word feng, which is used 
in this case in the Chronicle, is frequently found in the sense of a king 
succeeding to his kingdom — that is, in due course of inheritance. 
It is so in 800, when Ecgbryht succeeds to the kingdom of Wessex ; 
in 819, when Ceolwulf succeeds to Mercia; in 825, when Wiglaf 
succeeds to Mercia; and in 828, when he again returns to his king- 
dom; and in 836 and 871, when iEthelwulf and Alfred respectively 
succeed to the West Saxon kingdom 2 . It is, however, also used of 
a bishop taking charge of a see 3 . 

Although Gaimar does not say so, it is clear that London and 
Oxford in the year 912 stand on the same footing as regards Eadward's 
taking them into his possession. And the question resolves itself into 
this : if London, in consequence of the incursion of the Danes, had 
been separated from Mercia, it is probable that Oxford had been also. 
In other words, though in 871 Oxford seems to have been saved, it 
must have fallen afterwards into their power, and further, like London, 

1 Following Asser, who writes, ' post incendia urbium, stragesque populorum 
Londoniam civitatem honorifice restauravit, et habitabilem fecit.' Asser, sub anno. 
Mm. Hist. Brit., p. 489. 

2 ' Ecbryht feng to Wesseaxna rice '; A.-S. Chron. 801. 'Cenwulf Mercena Cyning 
forth ferde and Ceolwulf feng to rice'; Ibid. 819. ' Wiglaf feng to rice '; Ibid. 829. 
' Eft Wlaf feng Miercna rices'; Ibid. 829. ' Feng yEthelwulf Ecgbrihting to Wes- 
seaxna rice'; Ibid. 836. 'Tha feng yElfred ^Ethelwulfing to Wesseaxna rice'; 
Ibid. 871. 

3 ' Ceolnoth sercebisc. onfeng pallium'; A.-S. Chron. 831, and even of a Pope 
succeeding to the Papacy — ' Leo Papa forthferde : and sefter him Stephanus feng 
to rice' ; Ibid. 814. 


been rescued by Alfred and put into the keeping of Withered. Of 
London we read of the 'setting in order' in 886, but of Oxford we 
find no mention. In all probability Oxford had been restored by 
Guthrum's peace in 878, and at that time, when it was expected the 
Danes would retire behind the Waetling Street boundary, there was no 
I need of fortifying towns so far away ; and that it was not fortified is 
shown by the fact that the Danes, in 894, passed up the Thames on their 
way to the river Severn presumably without molestation. A fortress 
at Oxford would have stopped them, or at least produced a battle 
which would probably have been recorded. In 912 the aspect of 
affairs was very different, and hence Eadward's vigorous action. 

At present the question of London and Oxford only has been con- 
sidered, but it will be observed that the Chronicle adds, ' and all the 
i lands which thereto belonged/ There is reason to think that this 
t expression means practically the counties of Middlesex and Oxford- 
| shire ; and Gaimar, as will be observed, takes the passage to mean 
this, ' E le pais e le contez ki apendeient as citez! 

The exact time of the demarcation of the Mercian shires is doubtful, 
but the probability is that the work of Eadward in annexing Mercia 
i included the division of that kingdom into separate districts, which if 
not at once, at least soon afterwards, bore the name of shires. The 
[ districts into which Wessex was divided were already recognized, as 
1 they followed the lines of the old divisions, each division being to all 
appearance under the rule of an ealdorman. One of them, however, 
I at the first mention of it, bore the title of shire, viz. Ham-tun- shire, 
and was called so from the town of Hamptun, or, as it is usually 
I known, Southampton. We first hear of this district in 755, on account 
I of the ealdorman of it choosing to support the king, while the 
d other ealdormen of the kingdom had deserted him 1 . We hear of the 
iWilsaetas in the year 800 as fighting under ealdorman Weohstan 
ft against the Mercian Huiccas, at Cynemseresford (i.e. Kempsford on 
lithe Thames) under ealdorman JEthelmund; and so again in 878, 
ji| when the neighbourhood flocked to the assistance of JElfred, who was 
J.lthen at iEthelney, the chronicler writes, 'there came to meet him all 
ulSomerscete, and Wilscete, and Hamptunscire! In describing the 

I 1 A. S. Chronicle, sub anno. 1 The witan deprived the West Saxon King Sige- 
ibryht of his kingdom except Hamtunscire, and that he held until he slew the 
[ealdorman who had longest remained with him.' The reason of Hamtun giving its 
name to the district may perhaps be connected with the circumstances of a strip of 
land being taken in 661 out of Wessex communicating with the port giving access 
I to the Isle of Wight, although the Meonwara (see Beda iv. cap. 13) possibly 
only occupied a portion of what was afterwards the Hamtun-shire. 



diocese, however, which was probably in 870 coterminous with the 
territory of the Wilssetas, the Bishop is spoken of as ' of Wiltunscire,' 
from the chief town of Wiltun : under 898 this ecclesiastical name 
seems to have superseded the civil name of the district, as we read 
that 1 this year died iEthelm ealdorman of Wiltunscire 1 .' The Sumer- 
scete and the Dornsoste 2 had already been mentioned as fighting under 
their respective ealdormen Eanulph and Osric against the Danes in 
their raid up the river Parret in 845. 

The Defenas are first referred to in the Chronicle under the year 823, 
when they fight the Welsh, and again, under the same title, in 894 and 
897; nevertheless, in 851, 878, and 893, we find the district and the 
ealdorman referred to as that of Defena-scire^ though no town existed 
to give the name, as in the case of Wiltshire. On the other hand, the 
Somersaete and the Dornsaete are not found in the Chronicle with 
the suffix of ' shire ' till after the Conquest. Of the Cornwealas we 
do not read in the Chronicle till 891. 

The name Bearrucscire occurs as early as the year 860, when the 
ealdorman Osric, with Hamtunscire, and ealdorman ./Ethelwulf 3 , with 
Bearrucscire, fought against the Danes, who had come up the Itchen 
as far as the old Roman town of Winchester, but were put to flight. 
Probably the name is derived from the Saxon bearo, and may have 
reference to the long line of the Berkshire downs, with Cwichelmshlcewe, 
a prominent object, in the midst. Yet it is just possible that the 
original name may have contained the name of some tribe of which 
all traces are lost 4 . 

Thus the whole of Wessex proper is shown to be mapped out in 
shires before the date of 912, while the kingdoms of Kent and Sussex 
date from still earlier times, and of Suthrige or Surrey we hear under 
722, as the place of exile of Ealbriht. Further, it is to be noted that 
not only these nine several territories, but their very names, survive to 
the present day. 

1 The country is still called from the town, i.e. Wil-t-shire not Wil-shire. The 
t for the moment is suppressed, though not perhaps lost, in the modern Hampshire, 
and clearly appears in Hants. 

2 The first mention of the Dornsaete in the Chronicle is in 837, when they fight 
against the Danes under their ealdorman, ^Ethelhelm, at the Isle of Portland, where 
the Danes gain the victory and the ealdorman is slain. 

3 This was the same iEthelwulf who successfully prevented the Danes on their 
first attempt from reaching ^Escesdun, but who was slain in their second sally forth 
from Reading. See ante, p. 115. 

4 Asser begins his life of Alfred by speaking of Wanating (i.e. Wantage), Alfred's 
birthplace, being ' in ilia paga quae nominatur Berrocscire, quae paga taliter vocatur 
a Berroc, sylva ubi buxus abundantissima nascitur.' Monumenta Hist. Brit. p. 467. 


But as regards the Mercian kingdom on the north of the Thames it 
is quite different. The district of the old East Saxons, and the small 
territory of the Middle Saxons, still retained their name and probably 
much of their old boundaries, as also the two divisions of the East 
Anglian kingdom, the North folk and the South, folk. The Middle 
Angles had probably been absorbed into Mercia on the formation of 
that kingdom ; and this and all to the west, reaching up to the Welsh 
border, comes before us at the close of the ninth century as one 
great shire ruled over by one ealdorman. No doubt originally there 
were under-kingdoms, and from the aggregation of these the Mercian 
kingdom had been formed ; but so far as appears from the material 
left to us, their individuality had been lost, and their boundaries had 
been obliterated ; and though here and there some of the old divisions 
have left their traces in local nomenclature, they played no part in 
the meting out of the new shires, which took place, there is reason to 
suppose, in the tenth century 1 . 

It is clear also that ^Ethered held a high position in Mercia before 
I it was subjected to the West Saxon kingdom, and that it was in conse- 
I quence of this that JElfred had given him his daughter JEthelflaed in 
I marriage ; but we obtain no hint as to what part of Mercia it was in 
' which his patrimony lay, or whether he was of royal lineage or not. 
In 874 Burhred the actual king of Mercia had been driven out by the 
Danes ' beyond sea,' and had died soon after in Rome, whither he 
• had fled. Ceolwulf, to whom the Danes had committed the kingdom 
of Mercia — an unwise king's thane, as the Chronicle calls him — was 
I {probably deposed soon after Alfred's success of 878, when the 
; treaty was made by which the Danes withdrew beyond the Wsetling 
[(Street, and the former ealdorman (for ^Ethered seems to have borne 
■that title while the king Burhred was living 2 ) was restored again to the 
■dignity — but this time subject to the West Saxon king, who had 
I delivered the greater part of Mercia from the Danish bondage. It 
rwas not till 886 that we read in the Chronicle that Alfred gives him 

1 If for instance we take the district nearest to Oxford, that of the Huiccas, 
already named, as possessing an ealdorman so late as the year 800, we can only 
suppose that it occupied parts of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire but not the 
jwhole of either : nor would it be unreasonable to suppose that it extended itself 
jover a portion of Oxfordshire and has left its name in the royal forest of Wych- 
wood— referred to in the Domesday Survey. 'In Scotorne . . . et Huichwode 
liominicae forestae regis sunt.' fol. 154, verso, col. 2. 

! 2 ' Ethelred Deo adjuvante Merciorum Dux.' K. C. D. No. 304, Vol. ii. p. 99. 
Also just after the Guthrum treaty (K. C. D. 311) he defines his title 'Dux et 
jpatricius omnium Merciorum.' 


London in consequence of his position ; and he is still termed ealdor- 
man; but, though ealdorman in the sense of being subject to the 
king of Wessex, he had succeeded to the rule, not of a shire, like the 
Wessex ealdormen, but as regards extent to that of a kingdom \ 

Taking these several considerations into account, it may reasonably 
be assumed that it was not till Eadward's rule that Mercia was strictly 
divided into shires ; and further that the annexation of Oxford, ' with 
all the lands which thereto belonged V was an early, if not the earliest 
instance of such demarcation on this side of the Thames. From 
London being situated in the midst of a district which had acquired 
the name of the land of the Middlesaxons, no land was then assigned to 
it because it was in the centre of a ' shire ' already, and one which 
retained its old name, like Sussex and Essex, and like the 1 saete ' in 
Wessex already referred to. 

As has been frequently pointed out, it is the feature which distin- 
guishes the Mercian shires from almost all the others, that in them 
while the shire is grouped round the town which gives its name to 
it, in the others (Hampshire being the chief exception) the chief town 
has nothing to do with the name, and the position of it is a matter of 
accident. And this view is further supported by the fact that at this 
time several of the towns which formed the nucleus of the shire seem 
to come into prominence for the first time. Not only, as already 
said, is Oxford named in the Chronicle for the first time, no doubt 
in consequence of becoming a fortified town on the Thames, but 
also in 913 ^thelflsed, the lady of the Mercians, ordered the burh at 
Warwick to be built. The same year she built the burh at Stafford ; 
while Eadward ordered the burh to be built at Hertford between the 
two rivers; and in 915, at Buckingham, two burns; and in 919 the 
burh at Bedford 3 ; so that in these cases we have definite reference to 
the construction of their fortification, in others also it is implied. 
All these became shire centres. 

1 The two remaining entries in the Chronicle previous to that of 912 con- 
cerning him exhibit both sides of his position. On the one hand we hear of him 
in 894 as having stood sponsor to one of the sons of the Danish commander, 
King Eadward standing godfather to the other ; and on the other, in the same year 
fighting against the Danes, in conjunction with the ealdormen of Wiltshire and 

2 Under 915 again we find a similar expression regarding two other shire towns, 
viz. the chief men belonging to Bedford and those belonging to Northampton, 
and in the same year (though Chronicle A has it under 918) we read of the ' men 
of Hereford and the men of Gloucester.' 

3 Bedcanford had already appeared in the pages of the Chronicle, i.e. in 571, as 
marking the progress of the Saxon arms against the Brito- Welsh. See ante, p. 82. 


In 914, it was from Northampton the Danish army rode to 
Leicester; and again, in 921, they broke the peace at Northampton, 
and the same year they left the burh at Huntingdon. Then there 
were the five burhs *, four of which became shire towns — Derby and 
Leicester, both of which ^Ethelflaed took in 917, and Nottingham, 
which had already as early as 868 formed one of the first strongholds 
of the Danes, and which they held till 924, when Eadward drove them 
out and commanded the burh to be built on the south side of the 
river opposite the other. Lincoln was so far within the Danish lines 
that it seems to have played no part at this period, but it is included 
in the list of the five burhs freed by the king up to 941. 

These towns, then, became centres of districts or shires, and the few 
other towns of note were omitted, either from the absence of such 
natural advantages as to warrant the expense of fortification, of 
else from their proximity to other towns on the same rivers. In 
fact, looking at the question as a whole, it would appear as if the 
division of Mercia proper into shires arose from the necessity of the 
times, and were as much due to the military requirements as to any 
political convenience. One point is clear ; whatever the cause, Oxford 
stands as to recorded history in the forefront of the Mercian series in 
having a shire allotted to it. 

It is not easy at this distance of time, and with the little which has 
: been handed down to us, to attempt to determine on what principles 
j the shires were mapped out. In all probability, as already said, the old 
I under-kingdoms of Mercia had long been obliterated, and we cannot 
J suppose there was anything of the kind to guide the lines of the new 
I Oxfordshire. The boundary of the Thames, on the south, was of 
i course natural; but on the eastern side, while one would have expected 
the Thame to have marked out, at least roughly, a division, and to 
have carried on the tradition, so to speak, of the times when the 
j Dobuni and Cassivelauni occupied the country, that river is wholly 
J disregarded. For the northern and western boundary, it would be 
j only idle to guess at the circumstances which ruled it ; all that can be 
! said is, that the western boundary starts from the same point where 
I the division between the Wilsaete and Bearrocscire ends. Taking, how- 
1 ever, a map of this part of England with the roads, railways, canals, 
j and the like suppressed, and the rivers and hills put into the prominent 

1 Under the year 941 the Chronicle introduces their names in a poem. ' Five 
towns, Leicester, and Lincoln and Nottingham, so Stamford eke and Derby were 
erewhile Danish under the Northmen . . . until again released them . . . Eadmund 




position which the others occupy in most maps, there is a certain 
system observable in the demarcation, allowing for the circum- 
stances of the rivers and hills, and of the position of the several towns 
chosen for their importance. The divisions certainly do not seem to 
have been left to chance, and, as a rule, allowing for exceptional 
circumstances (of which Oxford affords one example), the town is as 
nearly as possible in the centre of the shire. One point seems to be 
very clear ; the line of demarcation laid down in the Guthrum Peace, 
1 up the Thames, and then up the Lea into its source, then right to 
Bedford, then up on the Ouse into Wsetling Street,' had no influence 
whatever in meting out any of the county boundaries through which 
that line ran. 

Taking, therefore, all the circumstances into account, it may be 
fairly said that the year 912 saw Oxford made a fortified town, with 
a definite duty to perform and a definite district assigned to it. From 
this time forward Oxfordshire was attached to it as a district, and 
Oxford the chief town of the county j and above and beyond this, at 
the same time, this county was definitely incorporated into the kingdom 
of Wessex which was now fast merging into the kingdom of England. 

Again, whatever may have been the special reason at this time for 
fortifying so many places throughout this particular part of the 
country (for we hear little or nothing of fortifications in Wessex) cer- 
tain it is, as the result showed, they were needed. The peace of 878 
must have been of short duration, and excepting that it was made 
after a defeat, instead of before, it does not seem to have differed very 
much from many others as to its temporary character. But this series 
of fortifications had a different effect. The breaking of the peace 
afterwards did not mean the horde of Danes ravaging the country; on 
the contrary, we find either Eadward or his sister gaining over other 
towns which were on the Danish side of the line of the treaty. In 917, 
for instance, • the Lady of the Mercians, God aiding her/ gains over 
Derby, and, in 918, the burh at Leicester with the greatest part of the 
army which belongs thereto, becomes subject to her. In 919, Ead- 
ward on his part goes to Bedford and gains the town, and in 920 
penetrates as far as Essex and takes Maldon, and establishes a ' burh ' 
there, and, in 921, the same at Towcester, which lies on the Waetling 
Street, the line of boundary in this part. And so the vigour of the 
king continued. But the result in one respect is unfortunate. Not 
only for the rest of Eadward's reign, but to the end of the century, 
there is in consequence no record in any of the Chronicles of any 
event connecting Oxford with the history of the kingdom. It is true 


the name occurs once, and once only, namely when the death of 
Eadward's son is recorded as taking place there, a few days after his 
father's death : — 

'a.d. 924. In this year King Eadweard died in Mercia at Farndon 1 ; 
^lfweard his son very shortly [about 16 days after] died at Oxford, 
and their bodies lie at Winchester 2 .' 

Florence of Worcester has thus followed the above in his Chro- 
nicle : — 

'And his (i.e. Edward's) body was carried to Winchester and was 
buried in a royal manner in the " New Minster." And not long after 
his son Alfward died at Oxenford, and was buried where his father 
was V 

Henry of Huntingdon gives the above in different words, but the 
place of JElfweard's death is not mentioned by Simeon of Durham or 
Geoffrey Gaimar. As will be seen by the note, one half of the 
Chronicles omit all reference to JElfweard, besides which, these make 
Eadward's death take place in 925. 

King Eadward had several children ; by his first wife JEthelstan, 
who succeeded him, and also Alfred, and a daughter Eadgyth, who 
was after his death married to Sihtric, king of Northumbria; by his 
second wife two sons, JSlfward, above named, and Eadwig. Had the 
children of the first wife been illegitimate, iElfward would have been 
heir to the throne 4 . 

The king's presence at Farndon at the time of his death is most 
likely to have been by reason of a chance stoppage in the course of one 
of his journeys, for it was the habit of kings in those days, as well as 
of a period long after the Norman Conquest, to be constantly on the 
move. But the death of one of his sons at Oxford, who must have 
been comparatively a young man, seems to show that the castle here 
was at this time provided with chambers sufficient for a residence for 
royalty, as it was in after years when we find several documents 

1 Farndon in Northamptonshire, about two miles east of Market Harborough. 
The Hyde Chronicle (14th century), which repeats the passage in substance, sup- 
poses the place to be Faringdon, for it has ' XII Miliare ab Oxonia distante ad 
occidentem ' : but then this Faringdon is on the south side of the Thames, i. e. in 
Wessex and not in Mercia. 

2 The extract is printed from Chron. B. Chrons. C and D follow it verbatim, 
the latter introducing the ' 16 days.' Chrons. A, E, and F omit all reference to 
iElfweard. Appendix A, § 40. 

3 Florence of Worcester, Chronicon, s. a.Mon. Hist. Br. p. 573. Appendix A, § 41. 

4 A legend is told which makes her his concubine, but the succession of iEthel- 
stan without opposition seems to negative the story. The circumstance of the 
marriage of Eadgyth, ^Ethelstan's sister, to the King of Northumbria— a marriage 
no doubt prompted by political reasons — tells also somewhat against it. 


relating to the king's chambers within the castle precincts. Further 
than this, it may be surmised that, Oxford being an important post, 
when Eadward was assigning the charge of the different fortified 
towns to nobles he could trust, he put that place under the custody of 
his son iElfweard, and that while acting as lord over Oxford he died 
there 1 . We learn but little of him. William of Malmesbury seems 
to have collected what he could about Eadward's family, and in the 
course of his summary he incidentally refers to him : — 

' By the illustrious Lady Egwin he had Athelstan his firstborn ; also 
a daughter of whose name I have not at hand any note ; this was the 
one her brother gave in marriage to Sihtric, King of the Northum- 
brians. Edward's second son was Ethelward, by Elfled, daughter of 
earl Ethelm, thoroughly versed in literature, and much resembling his 
grandfather Alfred both in appearance and manners; but he was taken 
off by death soon after that of his father V 

That the father elected to be buried at Winchester and not in 
Mercia, is but natural, since, after all, he was primarily King of Wessex, 
and the church at Winchester had been once the cathedral church, 
when Wessex was but one diocese. But more than this, JElfred his 
father had been buried there before him, and still more iElfred had 
commenced the foundation of the new Minster ; and as Eadward him- 
self had completed the foundation, it is probable that Florence of 
Worcester is right in saying that he was buried in the ' New Minster.' 
It is, however, by no means certain that he had any authority for this. 
The Hyde Abbey Chronicle has the same statement, which, as already 
said, may in several of its parts be based upon some Register still 
existing in the Abbey in the fourteenth century, though its value as an 
authority is much diminished by the interpolation of much from 
Ralph Higden and other later chroniclers. 

The vigorous policy of King Eadward as regards Mercia seems to 
have been carried on by his three sons who succeeded him, namely 

1 The circumstance of a King's son dying at Oxford, and one who was pro- 
nounced learned, was too good a point to be passed over by those who argued for 
the antiquity of the University. The passage in Antony a Wood will be suffi- 
cient to quote, 4 A. D. 913. About this time the King showed so much favour toward 
the University, that he sent his son named .^Elfward or Elfward ; where profiting in 
letters he became eminently learned.' Hist, and Ant. ed. 1 792, vol. i. p. 1 15. There 
is some reason, however, to suspect that the learning attributed to ^Elfweard arises 
from a confusion between Eadward's son and Alfred's son. The latter is mentioned 
by Asser as ludis literarice discipline? traditus (Mon. Hist. Br. p. 485) ; and a 
passage in the Hyde Abbey Chronicle (Rolls Series, p. 126) may be compared with 
that of Rudburn, already quoted. See ante, p. 49. 

2 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, lib. II, § 226. Engl. Hist. 
Soc. vol. i. p. 197. Appendix A, § 42. 


iEthelstan (925-940), his eldest son; Eadmund (940-946), the eldest 
by his third wife ; and Eadred (946-955), another son by the same 
wife. The Danes seem to have desisted from their attacks while this 
policy lasted, and though the Northumbrians under a king by name 
Olaf revolted and carried their arms as far as Tamworth, in 943, the 
energetic and decisive action of Eadmund soon put an end to the raid, 
he making himself at once master of the ' five burhs,' as is told in a 
poem introduced into the Chronicle, where the event is described. 

On the death of Eadred, however, serious troubles impended. It 
would seem that old fires were still burning, and ready to burst out 
when least expected. Mercia chose one successor to the throne, 
Wessex another. Eadgar, the second son of Eadmund was chosen by 
Mercia, but Wessex preferred Eadwig, the son of Edred. In some 
way, however, the political difficulty was surmounted by the Witan ; 
Eadwig succeeded, and after five years' reign, is in turn succeeded by 
Eadgar. Otherwise Oxford would have been again a border town, 
and would with its shire have had to elect whether to join the Mer- 

; cians, in which territory it lay for the longer part of its history, or 

i Wessex, to which it had been annexed by Eadward. 

But these divisions were the beginning of the end. Political intrigues 

\ were rife. Eadward the Martyr, who succeeded in 975, was murdered 
at Corfe-gate in 979, as it is said, by his stepmother JSlfthryth (who, it 
may be mentioned, was a benefactress to Abingdon Abbey 1 ), and his 
successor, ^Ethelred II, had not been two years on the throne before the 
Danes, perceiving the change in affairs, and the weakness caused in the 
government by internal feuds, began their incursions again. History 
repeated itself so exactly that the chronicler seems as if he had gone 

I back, and was beginning the story of the last hundred and fifty years 

' over again. Beginning in Thanet on the east, and Cheshire in the 

i north, the next year the Danes are ravaging the coasts of Devon and 
Cornwall. In 832 they ravage Dorsetshire about Portland, and so on, 

1 till emboldened, just as was the case before, they came up the 
Thames 2 . This was in 993, and they seem at present only to have 
reached as far as Staines. The circumstances of their reaching 
Oxford belongs to another century and another chapter. Before 
passing, however, to this chapter, it is thought well to take a rapid 

t glance at some points in the ecclesiastical history of the district. 
11 The diocesan history is so meagre and so obscure that, though 

1 It is probable that her name was given to the little ' ^Ifthryth die,' which 
was the boundary ditch separating Fyfield from Tubney in 968, and is so now. 

2 Compare the Danish landings referred to at the beginning of the chapter, p/113. 


Archbishop Theodore is accredited with having partitioned Mercia into 
dioceses, we hear little or nothing of Dorchester since the appointment 
of Mtln, already referred to *, At times it may have been the seat of a 
bishoprick, but the chief ' stool ' for the district seems to have been 
at Leicester during both the ninth and tenth centuries. William of 1 
Malmesbury in his Gesta Pontificum 2 professes to have compiled a 
list of those of Dorchester, but the first nine are those of Lindsey, 
and had probably no connection with Dorchester : his list of 
Leicester bishops, however, undoubtedly had, and they are given as 
follows — Totta, Edberht, Unwona, Werenberht, Rethune, Aldred, 
and Ceoldred. All of these names, excepting Aldred (which is 
probably only a misreading of the next), are found in correct suc- 
cession amongst signatures to charters between 737 and 869, but they 
are not mentioned in any of the Chronicles so as to bring the diocese 
into prominence. He then omits Alheard, Ceolwulf, Winsy, and ; 
Oskytel, who were certainly Bishops of Leicester if not all of Dor- 
chester as well. Their signatures range between 898 and 956. Of 
none of them is there any mention in the Chronicles, except that 
Oskytel is said to have been hallowed in 949 as ' Suffragan-Bishop j 
of Dorchester 3 ' before he was hallowed Archbishop of York. His jj 
signatures extend to 956 ; but under the year 954 one of the 
Chronicles has, ' in this year Archbishop Wulstan again succeeded to 
the bishopric at Dorchester V Leofwin, whose signatures range from 
953 to 965, appears also as Bishop of Lindsey, as well as Leicester ; 
and William of Malmesbury remarks that ' in the time of Eadgar j 
[959-973] he joined the two bishoprics.' The signatures of Elnod 
(written usually Eadnoth) and Escwin range between 965 and 1002, 
but these two bishops add nothing to the history of the diocese. 

From the early charters of S. Frideswide being lost we know no more 
of the history of that foundation between the time of its establishment 
and the restoration of the lands in 1002 (which belongs to the next 
chapter) than the summary beginning * Notandum quod Didanus ' sup- 
plies ; and in that a line will be noticed to the following effect : — 

' Some time after the glorious death of S. Frideswide, the Nuns 
having been taken away, secular canons were introduced V 

1 See ante, p. 87. 

2 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontificum, Rolls Series, p. 311. 

3 See Chronicles B and C, sub anno, 971, 'Se wses serest to Dorkeceastre to 
leod-bisceope gehalgod.' 

4 Chron. D, sub anno : ' Wulstan Arcebiscop onfeng eft biscoprices on Dorce- 
ceastre.' He was Oskytel's predecessor at York, and had been banished. There 
may be hence some confusion. His name occurs in no list of Bishops of Dorchester. 

5 Already given from the Ch. Ch. Chartulary, ante, p. 92, 


The question is, had the writer any grounds whatever for the state- 
ment beyond the charter of King iEthelred in which that king is 
made to say that ' he has recovered the lands which belonged to the 
said monastery ? ' The word arcisterio would apply to a nunnery as 
well as to a monastery, and it might have remained a nunnery till its 
destruction. On the other hand, it is quite possible that the nuns had 
left and that the lands of the nunnery had been transferred to some 
* secular canons,' and that the tradition only survived ; if so, the 
further question arises did they remain secular, or were they turned 
out by iEthelwold ? It must be remembered that the superiority of 
secular or regular canons was then the great ecclesiastical question of 
the day, and iEthelwold, Bishop of Winchester (who was as energetic 
as his leader Archbishop Dunstan himself in the promotion of monas- 
ticism), had been raised to the episcopate in 963 from the neigh- 
bouring Abbey of Abingdon, where he was then ruling as abbot. 
That abbey must have been at the time in a nourishing condition, 
though it had suffered much, as we learn, from the Danish incursions in 
Alfred's reign, when S. Frideswide's may have suffered also. We learn 
by one of the Chronicles 1 that JEthelwold, in the same year in which he 
became bishop, begged of King Eadgar ' to give him all the monas- 
teries which heathen men had before ruined, because that he would 
restore them ; and the king blithely granted it.' The chronicler, how- 
ever, only names two, namely Ely and Peterborough, which he so 
restored ; but if S. Frideswide's had suffered from the first series of 
Danish incursions as it did in the second, and the foundation with 
which iEthelwold, while abbot of Abingdon, must have been familiar, 
was amongst the number given to him, we may be sure that he would 
have put in regulars and not seculars. At the same time, under 
the year 975, we find mention in three of the Chronicles of an 
ealdorman of Mercia, by name iElfhere, destroying the monasteries 
which ^Ethelwold had restored : — 

f iElfthere ealdorman, and others many, the monkish rule obstructed, 

and monasteries destroyed, and monks expelled, and God's servants 

persecuted V 

This exaggerated language probably only means that the monks 
were turned out and the original secular priests restored ; it is just 
possible, therefore, that S. Frideswide's was first occupied by secular 
canons, then by monks in 963, and then again by secular canons in 
975. There is another passage, also introduced into the Cartulary, 
in reference to the turning out and then the restoration of the 

1 A. S. Chronicle, E. sub anno 963. 2 Ibid. Chrons. D. E. F. sub anno 975. 



seculars, purporting however to belong to a later period : this will 
be best considered further on in its place \ 

But there is one event which is recorded as having occurred at this 
time at a place which there seems every reason to identify with Kirt- 
lington near to Oxford, and which may therefore be here noticed. The 
Chronicles B and C under the year 977 have the following: — 

' This year after Easter (Ap. 8) was the great " gemot " ( = Council) 
at Kyrtlingtun ; and there died Bishop Sideman by sudden death, on 
the 2nd of the Kal. of May (Ap. 30). He was Bishop of Devonshire, 
and he desired that his body's resting place might be at Grediton at 
his Episcopal see. Then commanded King Eadward and Archbishop 
Dunstan that he should be conveyed to S. Mary's Monastery which is 
at Abingdon, and so it was also done ; and he is also honourably buried 
on the north side of S. Paul's Porch.' 

The subjects which were debated at this council have not been 
handed down to us, or any list of those who \%ere present ; but the 
death of the bishop of Crediton shows that the bishops of the country 
had attended from some distance. It would appear also that the 
king and the archbishop were present. The question naturally arises, 
why should they not have held the council in Oxford itself? Further, 
why should they not have buried Bishop Sideman at S. Frideswide's if 
that monastery had been restored, and was in a flourishing condition ? 
The body no doubt, when carried to its resting-place, would enter 
Oxford by the northern road already mentioned; it would pass the 
very gates of S. Frideswide's, and out through the south gate of the 
town, and over the river by the ford, and thence on to Abingdon 2 . 

On the whole then, from the negative evidence, although it must be 
admitted such is not satisfactory, we must assume that S. Frideswide's 
was not in a flourishing condition. It existed as a monastery, and 
some of the buildings were no doubt standing, as we hear of the 
church at the beginning of the next century ; and if we accept William 
of Malmesbury's version of the story, it had a tower into which, as 
will be seen in the next chapter, certain Danish fugitives took refuge. 

1 See post, Chapter IX. p. 166. 

2 Of course it is possible that the corpse may have been conveyed by water, for 
the Cherwell passes near to Kirtlington, or it may have been transferred on to a 
boat at Oxford. But on the whole the road journey would be the more probable. 
The north porch of St. Paul would mean the apse either at the east end of the 
northern aisle or on the eastern side of the northern transept. It is not certain 
whether the church existing at this time was on the site of the large twelfth century 
church afterwards erected : that stood in what are now Mr. Trendell's private 
grounds at Abingdon, though not a single stone of the vast building has been left 
in situ. In all probability it was south of this, namely within the precincts of 
Mr. Morland's brewery. 


Oxford during the Danish Invasion in the early 
part of the Eleventh Century. 

The reign of Ethelred II, which brought the tenth century to a 
close, and with which the eleventh century opens, was perhaps the 
saddest of any which England had yet seen. The long thirty-seven 
years seem to have been fraught with disasters throughout. The 
name ' Unready,' commonly applied to the sovereign, though in its 
true signification it meant 'badly counselled/ or perhaps without 
counsel at all, might have been justly applied in its modern significa- 
tion as regards his meeting the attacks of the Danes; rash and impro- 
vident, he seems to have exerted energy when not wanted, and never 
to have been ready when it was wanted. For the first twenty years 
the inland parts were not threatened, but this seems not to have been 
from the Danes fearing the valour of the English people, but from 
Ethelred buying them off when they made raids upon the coast, 
and obtained a footing in any town. It seemed to be a continuous 
policy of yielding for the sake of peace at one moment, and resorting 
to any method to get over some difficulty the next. 

The year 1002 saw an example of this latter policy which was as 
wicked, if not as foolish a one as could well be devised. The king 
seems to have issued an edict throughout the country to all the 
ealdormen and reeves to have the Danes massacred on a certain day, 
wherever they were found — not those in arms only but the peaceful, 
and there is some reason to suppose the women and children also. 
The Chronicle runs : — 

'a.d. 1002. . . . And in that year the king commanded all the 
Danish men who were in England to be slain. This was done on the 
Mass-day of S. Bricius ; because it had been made known to the king 
that they would plot against his life, and afterwards those of all his 
witan, and then have his realm without any gainsaying V 

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, C, D, E, F, sub anno. Appendix A, § 43. 



Passing by the somewhat feeble excuse which the chronicler makes 
for the infamous act, it is only necessary to note how it affected 
Oxford. The Chronicles are wholly silent as to the result of the 
edict, and we do not know whether it was generally carried out or 
not; but we have remaining transcripts of an important charter, of 
which some account has already been given on a previous page 1 , 
which shows that in Oxford not only the Danes suffered, but also 
the religious foundation of S. Frideswide's. 

4 In the Year of our Lord 1004, in the second indiction and in the 
twenty-fifth year of my reign, according to the disposal of God's 
providence, I ASelred ruling over the whole of Albion have for the 
love of the Almighty established with liberty of charters and by royal 
authority a certain monastery situate in the city which is called 
Oxoneford, where the body of St. Frideswide reposes, and have 
recovered the lands which belonged to the said monastery of Christ 
by the restoration of this new book [of charters] and for all those 
who shall look upon this page I will recount by means of very few 
words the reason why this was done. For it is certain enough that it 
must be very well known to all inhabitants of this country that since 
there was issued a certain decree made by me with the advice of my 
nobles and princes, that all the Danes who had risen up in this island 
by increase like tares amidst the wheat should be slain by a most just 
destruction. And this decree was carried into effect to the very 
death; but whatever Danes were living in the aforesaid city in 
attempting to save themselves from death, entering this Sanctuary 
of Christ, breaking by force the doors and bolts determined therein 
that what was a refuge for themselves, should become a fortress 
against the inhabitants of the city, both those who lived within and 
without the wall (urbanos *vel suburbanos). But when the people in 
pursuit of them compelled by necessity strove to eject them, and 
could not, having thrown fire upon the planks [of the roof] they 
burnt this church, as it seems, together with the ornaments and the 

i Afterwards with the help of God, it is now restored by myself, and 
by my subjects, and as I have before said, having retained all its 
customs entire by the dignity of charters which for the honour of 
Christ have been confirmed together with all the territories adjoining, 
and with every liberty granted both as to royal as well as ecclesiastical 

'But if by chance it should happen at any time that any one of 
unsound mind 2 ' 

1 See ante, page 91. As the first part refers to the foundation of S. Frideswide's 
in 727, and the last belongs more especially to the present date, it has been thought 
well to divide it, a few lines however at the beginning of the charter being repeated. 

2 Ex Cartulario S, Frideswidae. The passage will be found in Appendix A, 
§ 29. 


It will be convenient before considering the political aspect of the 
massacre to complete the description of the charter and to add such 
other evidence as bears upon the event. The charter ends with one 
of the usual anathemas, which, apart from defying translation into 
English, is of no special interest \ 

Next, in the larger chartulary of S. Frideswi'de's, namely that pre- 
served in Christ Church, a series of boundaries of lands are inscribed, 
which have the appearance of being copied from those attached to 
the original boundaries, but which in the process of transcription 
have been somewhat altered, the transcriber sometimes misreading 
the original, at others substituting his own readings. 

The first plot of land named is that of Winchendon often hydes. 
It agrees exactly with what is found in the Domesday Survey of 1086 
under Terra Canonicorum Oxeneford 2 in the county of Buckingham- 
shire. It is evidently to be identified with the Nether Winchendon of 
the map, which lies on the banks of the river Thame, about four 
miles north-east of the town of Thame, and four miles south-west of 
Aylesbury : since ' along Thame stream ' occurs as a portion of the 
boundary of the land in question. 

The second plot of land named is that of Whithull, consisting of 
three hydes. As it seems to lie between the Port-strete and the Cher- 
well, it may perhaps be assigned to the land at the south of Tack ley 
where Whitehill farm still preserves the name ; it would therefore lie 
several miles to the north of Oxford. There is nothing amongst the 
lands in the Domesday Survey to assist in the identification, and it 
cannot well be included under the four hydes mentioned as belonging 
to the monastery in the neighbourhood of Oxford. 

The third plot which appears to have been given, or which, if we 
believe the charter literally, was restored to the monastery, has the title 
of Bolles, Covele, and Hedington, that is of Bullingdon, Cowley, and 
Headington. It is described as of three hydes, and as the circuit 
starts from Cherwell bridge, and as Ziflele, i.e. Iffley, is named amongst 
the boundaries, we may conclude it occupied a large tract to the 
East of Oxford. This probably is included in the iiij hydes which the 
Canons of S. Frideswide's held of the king c juxta Oxeneford' and the 

1 It will however be found printed in the Appendix, with the rest of the charter. 
Appendix A, § 29. 

2 Domesday Survey, folio 146 a. The other Winchendon in the Survey occurs 
under the lands belonging to Walter Gifard, folio 147 a, col. 2, and is to be identi- 
fied with the manor, and so with the parish of Upper Winchendon, which lies high 
up on the hill. 


difference between the three and the four hydes may be that the latter 
includes the land on which the monastery itself was built, and the 
■ curia ' thereto belonging. The fourth plot, consisting of two hydes, j 
was in Cutslow ; this is duly entered in the Domesday Survey as of I 
two hydes 1 , and the name is still found as that of a farm, on the north- 
eastern side of Oxford ; like the rest the boundaries are of uncertain J 
identification. The fifth paragraph consists of a recital of the liberties 
of S. Frideswide's, and these amongst other general customs include 
the tithing of Headington, at which latter place it will be observed that 
the charter is supposed to be signed. It is called a 'royal vill,' but 
whether that involves the king having a definite residence there may 
be open to question. 

That this series of boundaries are copied from genuine documents 
by the transcriber of the S. Frideswide cartulary, there is no valid 
reason to doubt, nor will it be disputed that they belong substan- 
tially to the year 1004. S. Frideswide's, therefore, though in com- 
parison with that of the neighbouring Abingdon Monastery, it was a 
poor foundation, held considerable property as the total of eighteen 
hydes testifies. 

The entries conclude with a list of the signatures attached to the 
charter as follows : — 

This schedule was written by command of the aforesaid king in the 
royal vill, which is called Hedyndon, on the day of the octaves of 
S. Andrew the apostle [i.e. Dec. 7] with the consent of these chief 
men who appear written beneath. 

I, Etheldred, King of the English, have granted this charter to the 
aforesaid with perpetual liberty in the name of Christ. 

I, Alfrich, Archbishop of the church of Canterbury, have corrobo- 
rated the same under anathema. 

I, Wulfstan, Archbishop of the city of York, have confirmed it. 

I, Elfgifu, the royal spouse, have honoured this gift. 

I, Athelstan, the eldest of the royal family, together with my brother, 
was kindly present as a witness. 

I, Alfean, Prelate of Venta, have subscribed thereto. 

I, Alstan, Bishop of the church of Wells, thereto have confirmed it. 

I, Alfun, Bishop of the church of London, have consecrated it. 

I, Godwine, Bishop of the church of Lichfield, have secured it. 

I, Orbyrht, Bishop of the South Saxons, have concluded it. 

I, Ethelrich, Bishop of the church of Sherborne, have consented. 

I, Alfwod, Bishop of the church of Crediton, have revived it. 

1 The Domesday Survey under 'Land of the Canons of Oxford and of other 
clerks' gives four hydes near Oxford, and two hydes at Cutslow. The other lands 
under the same head are those of the clerks, and apparently have nothing to do 
with S. Frideswide. 


I, Alfric, ealdorman. 

I, Leofwyne, ealdorman. 

I, iElfgar, earl. 
I, Goda, thane. 

I, Wulfgar, abbot. 
I, Alsigge, abbot. 
I, Athelmer, earl. 
I, Ordulf, earl. 

I, ^thelwerd, earl, 
I, Athlwyne, earl. 
I, Ordmere, earl. 
I, Leofwyne, earl. 
I, Godwyne, earl. 

I, iEthelmer, earl. 
I, iElric, earl. 

&c, as in the aforesaid codicil, 

Without entering into many details which a survey of these wit- 
nesses suggest, such as their rank, their style and title, or the 
fanciful mode of signature, no doubt due to the ingenuity of the clerk 
who drew up the charter 1 , it is important to consider their bearing 
upon the date. It may be said generally that a correlation of the whole 
series as far as dates are known agrees very well indeed with the date 
in the body of the charter 2 . Consequently there are none of the 
difficulties which so constantly beset the historian in assigning the date 

1 It will be observed that there are besides the King, eleven Prelates, the 
Queen (the expression used is ' thoro consecrata regio'), the king's eldest son 
iEthelstan, two nobles with the titles of 'dux' (which has been translated 'eal- 
dorman'), nine with the title of 'comes 1 (which has been translated earl), one 
minister (translated 'thane'), and two abbots. 

2 The following are the dates which should tally with 1004. Ethelred the King, 
979-1016: ^Elfgifu must be Emma, the second wife, who came over from Nor- 
mandy in 1002 according to the Chronicles C, D, E, F, during Lent (that is, some 
six months before the edict was issued for the massacre of the Danes), and who seems 
to have assumed on her marriage the name of yElfgifu, the first wife not signing 
apparently any charter whatever, the queen-mother iElfthyth signing throughout 
either as regina or as mater regis. In one charter, dated 1002 (K. D. D. No. 1296), 
we have the signature ^Elfgifu conlaterana regis, but as the same form occurs in 
1005 and after, it must belong to ^Elfgifu-Emma, though occasionally she signs also 
as Queen. That ^Ethelstan was the eldest son is borne out by signatures in some 
twenty charters or more, where his name comes before that of his three or four 
brothers. His style is sometimes filius regis, sometimes clito. The first time his 
signature appears is perhaps in 988 (K. C. D. 666) and with the title of primus, his 
brothers not being mentioned ; but if so, ^Ethelred must have married very young. 
On his not succeeding to the throne instead of his brother Eadmund see Freeman's 
Norman Conquest, vol. i. 3rd edition, 1877, Appendix SS. p. 685. Elfric, Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury 990-1005. Wulstan, Archbishop of York 1003-1023. 
Ethelric, Bishop of Sherborne 1002-1009. Elfwold, Bishop of Crediton 988-1008. 
Elphege (more correctly perhaps spelt ^Elfeah), Bishop of Winchester 984-1005. 
Elfstan, Bishop of Wells 990-1012. Alfun or Elfwin, Bishop of London 1004- 
1012. Godwin, Bishop of Lichfield 1004-1008. Ordbryht, Bishop of Sussex 
(i.e. Selsey) 989-1009. The above dates are taken from the valuable Registrum 
Sacrum Anglicanum. As to the ealdormen and earls the material for identification 
is very slight, as there are often more than one bearing the same name. Probably 
Alfric was the ealdorman slain at the battle of Assandun in 1016, while Leofwyne 
was probably ealdorman of the Huiccas, who seems to have succeeded to Mercia 
in 1017, &c. &c. There are few if any names in the list which are not also found 
elsewhere about this date. Finally the second Indiction agrees with the date of 1004. 



to a charter, when the copyists have combined signatures to the con- 
firmation charter and those of the original into one series. 

In giving William of Malmesbury's account of the foundation of 
S. Frideswide's *, in the Gesta Pontijicum, the continuation of the 
passage was omitted. It is continued as follows : — 

' In the time of King Ethelred, however, when the Danes, being con- 
demned to death, had taken refuge in the monastery, they as well as 
the buildings, were through the insatiable rage of the English destroyed 
by fire. But soon the repentance of the king caused to be built for 
them a purified shrine and a restored monastery; their lands were 
given back, and fresh possessions added V 
When William of Malmesbury treats the subject in his history of 
the kings, he makes a singular error. He has transferred the burning 
of the church with the Danes in it to some nine years after the date of 
the charter (which it will be remembered recites the event as having 
already taken place), and further connects the burning of S. Frideswide 
with an event which took place in Oxford of another kind, which will 
have to be discussed later on. The passage runs : — 

'The year following [i.e. 1015] a great council <3f Danes and of 
English assembled at Oxford, and there the king [Ethelred] com- 
manded Sigeferd and Morcard, the chief nobles amongst the Danes, 
to be killed, under a pretence of treason which had been charged 
against them by the treachery of Edric. Deceiving them by his 
friendly advances, he had enticed them into his private chamber (tri- 
clinium), and when they had been made to drink deeply by his 
servants, who were expressly charged to this effect, he put an end to 
their lives. The reason of this murder was said to be that he desired 
their property. Their servants were determined to revenge the death 
of their lords, but were repulsed by force, and driven into the tower 
of the church of S. Frideswide. And as they could not turn them out, 
they were burnt by fire. But soon, by the King's penitence, the stain 
was blotted out; the holy place was repaired. I have read this in 
writing, which is preserved in the Archives of that Church as a proof 
of the fact 3 .' 

It must first be claimed that there are not likely to have been two 
burnings of the same church from Danes taking refuge there, within so 
short a period, and both recorded in the archives. We have moreover 
a copy of the very charter to which William of Malmesbury refers, and 
which he duly quotes in his Gesta Pontijicum, and that clearly ascribes 
the burning to the massacre on S. Brice's day. It is therefore obviously 

1 See ante, p. 94. The few words connecting the two passages are repeated. 

2 W. Malmesbury, Gesta Pontijicum Angl lib. iv. § 78. Rolls Series, 1870, 
p. 316. See Appendix A, § 30. 

3 W. Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Angl. lib. ii. § 179, Eng. Hist. Society's ed. 
London, 1840, vol. i. p. 297. Appendix A, § 44. 


a blunder on his part in taking or reading the notes which he made 
for his history. But though it is a blunder, the passage ought not to 
be at once dismissed. It shows so admirably how a chronicler com- 
piles his Chronicle. He has (as will be shown afterwards) an account 
of two thanes being enticed by Eadric into a chamber and slain. 
How was this to be connected with the burning of a number of Danes 
in the tower of the church ? His ingenuity is admirable : he invents 
the fact of the servants of the thanes desiring to avenge the deaths of 
their two lords, and that it was these who took refuge in the tower 
and so were burnt. It shows how cautious one ought to be in ac- 
cepting the additions to the original chronicles made by successive 

Henry of Huntingdon does not mention Oxford in recounting the 
circumstance of the massacre of the Danes, probably not having seen 
the S. Frideswide charter; but he writes as follows 

1 The king being elated with pride, secretly ordered all the Danes 
to be treacherously murdered on one and the same day, that is to say 
on the festival of S. Britius. And of this piece of wickedness, I'm my 
youth heard some very old people speak, how the King sent secret letters 
to each city, in accordance with which, on the same day and at the 
same hour, the English either killed all the Danes who were unpre- 
pared, with swords, or having suddenly seized them burned them 
with fire V 

It is not improbable that the story he had heard of the massacre 
was the Oxford story, as it will be shown further on that he had a 
friend in Oxford who might have told him of the tradition of the place. 
The burning by fire was at least a very rare form of capital punish- 
ment at this time, even if any example could be found; but the Danes 
being burned in the tower of S. Frideswide would be just the kind of 
story which would be handed down with horror, and which would 
become transformed into the shape in which Henry narrates it. 

It is very singular that, so far as has been observed, no other 
example of a single massacre on S. Brice's Day has been recorded 
than this one at Oxford, and it will be seen that we only obtain that 
through the chance circumstance of the charter of King Ethelred 
having been preserved. It is perhaps too much to hope that Oxford 
was the only place where the edict was put into force. 

Having seen the manner in which William of Malmesbury compiles 
his Chronicle, there is no reliance to be placed upon the detail which 
he gives of the Danes having taken refuge in a tower, which differs 

1 Henry of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum, Rolls Series, 1879, p. 174. 
Appendix A, § 45. 

L % 


from that given in the charter. It is quite possible that S. Frideswide 
had a tower, and it is just possible it. may have been of wood, and so 
easily burnt ; but it is more likely that the Danes had taken refuge in the 
church itself, as a place of sanctuary : if this were so, the fury of the 
mob would pay no attention to it ; they would throw torches on the 
boarded roof, covered perhaps with wooden shingles, which would soon 
catch alight, and falling down within the walls of the church, would 
either suffocate the fugitives, or compel them to rush out and meet 
their fate. 

At any rate it was a horrible as well as discreditable business, and 
it is a great misfortune that Oxford was the scene of such an event, 
and the more so as it is the only place we find connected with the 
edict; it is, too, only the second event which has brought Oxford 
prominently forward in history. 

How far the events of the next few years may have been the results of 
the revenge to which the Danes would be naturally aroused, cannot be 
determined; nor is it known whether Exeter had been the scene of 
crime like Oxford or not. Certain however it is, that early the next year 
Exeter was entered by the Danes, and, as would appear, through the 
treachery of the reeve appointed by the Norman Lady Emma, Ethelred's 
second wife. The ealdorman ^Elfric, pretending illness at a critical 
moment, also treacherously allowed the Danes, under the command of 
Sweyn, to sack Wiltun and Salisbury and to return safely to their ships. 
In East Anglia, however, matters went differently, when the following 
year Sweyn landed on the coast ; but Ulfkytel seems not to have 
been able to assemble the whole country, and so they got away 
again, though with no plunder, as it would appear, but with great loss 
of men. In the year 1005 all we find recorded is that a great famine 
spread over the land; but in 1006 the Danes came again from the 
Isle of Wight, straight up Hampshire, and so to their old quarters at 
Reading. The few words of the Chronicle are as eloquent as brief : — 

' 1006. And then at the midwinter they went to their ready farm : 
out through Hampshire into Berkshire to Reading, and there they did 
their old wont; they lighted their war beacons wherever they went, j] 
Then went they to Wallingford, and that all burned ; and were then 
one day in Cholsey ; and they went then along iEscesdun to Cwichelms- I 
hloewe, and there abode as a daring boast ; for it had been often said 
that if ever they should reach Cwichelmshloewe they would never 
again get to the sea. Then they went homewards another way V 

One hundred and thirty-five years had elapsed since the Danes 
came to Reading on the occasion already recorded. History so far ! 

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, C, D, E, sub anno. Appendix A, § 46. 


repeated itself that, then and now, they aimed at making themselves 
masters of that long range of Berkshire hills known as JEscesdun, to 
which reference has already frequently been made, and reaching 
Cwichelmshloewe, the central spot marked by the clump of trees, 
which is so prominent an object on the horizon, as seen by any one 
mounting to the top of Cumnor hill K * 

In 871 they failed to reach the coveted spot. In 1006, as far as 
we can judge, they marched thither without hindrance. Now there 
was no ealdorman JEthelwulf to bar the road at Englefield — no army 
surrounding their fortress at Reading, through which they had to 
cut their way— no Alfred and JEthelred to meet them in the early 
dawn, when they had gained the top of the hill, and then to disperse 
them in all directions 2 . There was still an iEthelred ruling, but how 
different a king! If on that morning in 871 the Danes had gained 
a start along the Icknield Way, they would have reached Cwichelms- 
hloewe before the English caught them up, and the results might 
have been very different. In 1006 all we hear of iEthelred the Second 
is, that he was away in Shrewsbury, probably little recking of the ruin 
which his long-continued policy of procrastination, compromise, and 
finally retreat, was bringing upon the country. 

On this occasion the Danes did not cross the Thames. They had 
probably no means with them ; and further, having found their ' ready 
farm ' at Wallingford and Cholsey, had as much as they could carry 
away with them over the hills ' another way' — that is, they avoided 
Reading ; but in their journey southward they still had to fight a 
small army on crossing the river Kennet before they reached the sea. 

After this the same policy is again followed. To quote the words 

of the chronicler, ' then was there so great awe of the Danish army 

that no man could think or devise how they should be driven out 

from the land, or this country held against them ; for they had cruelly 

marked every shire in Wessex with burning and with harrying.' 

Then we read that the king sent to the army and ' directed it to be 

made known to them that he would there should be peace between 

them, and that tribute should be paid and food given them.' At one 

moment fighting recklessly, at the next offering terms — no wonder 

that the successive years saw increasing numbers coming to this 

1 It is necessary to walk a short distance along the road past the brick-kilns, 
to where it bifurcates, one branch leading into Cumnor village ; the whole range of 
^Escesdun, stretching as far as the White-horse Hill, here bursts into view bounding 
the southern horizon. The clump of trees marking Cwichelmshloewe is seen on the 
left ; that seen in the distance on the far right, and due west, is the clump on the 
top of the old ' burh ' at Faringdon. 2 See ante, p. 114. 


country. England, having lost its prestige, every northern nation 
found men who thought it worth their while to come over ; for pro- 
bably the term £ Denisc ' and ' heathen army ' included more than the 
inhabitants of the little island of Denmark. In 1007, thirty-six thou- 
sand pounds was paid to the army, and Eadric, who had been one of 
the worst of the counsellors, by whom the ' unready ' king was ' coun- 
selled,' was promoted to high office in the kingdom, and made ealdor- 
man of Mercia. This was another step in the wretched policy of the 
king ; and in its results, as will be seen, it concerns Oxford. 

In 1009 an attempt seems to have been made to meet the Danes 
on their landing and a really vigorous policy to be initiated. But 
again Eadric counselled the king, and his brother Brihtric accused 
Wulfnoth the South Saxon of treason • under pretence of seizing him, 
he kept the ships away that should be doing service to the country. 
The Danes came, some landing on the eastern coast, some on the 
southern. Those who came to the latter ravaged Hampshire and 
Berkshire — 'as their wont is/ writes the contemporary chronicler. 
Thurkill's army, which had found comfortable winter quarters in Kent, 
after S. Martin's Mass day 'fought against London, but praise be to 
God that it yet stands sound.' 

The Chronicle continues : — 

1009. ' And then, after Midwinter, they took an upward course, out 
through Chiltern, and so to Oxford, and burned that town, and then 
took their way, on both sides of the Thames, towards their ships V 

The several chroniclers who follow the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle do not 
vary the story materially. 

Florence of Worcester, making the date 10 10, writes : — 

' In the month of January the army of the Danes, leaving their 
ships, go to Oxford through the woods of Chiltern, arid sack the town, 
and set it on fire, and so in going back they carry on their ravages on 
both sides of the Thames V 

Henry of Huntingdon merely says, 'After Christmas the Danes 
went by Chiltern to Oxford, returning to their ships after they had 
burned it';- and Simeon of Durham and Roger of Hoveden follow 
Florence of Worcester verbatim. 

The army of the Danes had, after their attack upon London, which 

1 The extract is from Chron. C. Chron. A, now written by later hands, has 
become very meagre, and Chron. B ceases entirely with the year 977. Chrons. 
D and E follow the above with little variation. , Appendix A, § 47. 

2 Florence of Worcester, Chronicon, printed in Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 586. 
Appendix A, § 48. 


had proved a failure, marched up the Thames. The usual route was 
on the southern side, but they marched along an unusual route, thus 
avoiding Reading, and over the Chiltern hills. In all probability the 
rush upon Oxford was sudden ; and it will be observed that Florence 
of Worcester paraphrases the words ' out through Chiltern ' by per 
saltum qui dicitur Chiltern. Instead of the few scattered woods which 
we now see on the sides of the Chiltern Hills, there was probably 
a kind of belt of continuous woodland, making a vast forest, which 
would have concealed their movements \ Whether from having seen 
the spot, or from the description of those who had, the paraphrase of 
Florence brings before us the secrecy and suddenness of the raid. 
The Mercian ealdorman, as might have been expected, remained 
inactive. No resistance seems to have been offered at Dorchester, or 
anywhere along the route, and therefore they made straight for Oxford. 
The danger of such incursions had been foreseen by Edward the Elder 
a century previously, but it is probable that Ethelred's ' unready ' rule 
had allowed the fortifications to be neglected, and the chief defences, 
which were perhaps of wood, to become decayed. The Danish 
march, as said, was probably so rapid that no time was left for fresh 
preparations, and thus Oxford easily fell a prey to the invader. The 
burning of the town was no doubt part of a consistent policy of the 
Danes. They had treated Wallingford so, as has been seen, a few 
years previously, and the action is described as £ is their wont/ And the 
reason was this : — the principle of buying them off once established, 
they raised their terms of course as high as they could, and it materially 
helped the assessment of the terms to show, now and then, what 
extensive damage they could inflict when not paid to keep away. 

The following year the same work went on ; but in East Anglia 
Ulfkytel was still ealdorman. The Danes evidently met with a firm and 
well- sustained resistance there, instead of unprepared and hasty 
sorties, or abject submission, or disgraceful bribes to go away. But 
again Ulfkytel, as in 1004, was overpowered by numbers : had there 
been but a few more such vigorous and determined men, England 
would have been easily saved. The army again visited Oxfordshire ; 
but as Oxford had been burnt and plundered the year previously, they 
probably left it alone now, and passing out into Buckingham they 
marched over fresh ground, ' down the Ouse to Bedford, and so 

1 Amongst the good deeds of Leofstan, Abbot of St. Albans in Edward the Con- 
fessor's time, was the making of a road through Chiltern, which, on account of so 
much woodland, was infested by gangs of robbers who were a terror to the neigh- 
bourhood, and rendered travelling, except in large armed companies, impossible. 
{Gesta Abbatum S. Albani, Rolls Series, 1867, p. 39.) 


onwards to Tempsford, ever burning as they went. Then went they 
again to their ships with their booty.' The Chronicle proceeds 
with a few words which bring vividly before us the indecision and 
incompetency of Ethelred to rule a kingdom : — 

' And when they had gone to their ships, then should the force have 
again gone out to oppose them if they would land : then the force 
went home ; and when they were east, then was the force held west ; 
and when they were south, then was our force north. Then were 
all the witan summoned to the king, and they should then advise how 
this country could be defended. But though something was then 
resolved, it stood not even for a month ; at last there was not a chief 
man who would gather a force, but each fled as he best might ; nor 
even at last would any shire assist another V 
The heart-rending scenes which followed when tribute was not 
paid, are here and there briefly described by the Chronicle. The 
Archbishop of Canterbury, Elphege, whom we commemorate in our 
Prayer Book calendar, was one who made a stand, and was given over 
to the vengeance of the mob. We read the same year of the traitor 
Eadric presiding over the chief Witan in London, while the Arch- 
bishop was carried off ' and smitten with bones and horns of oxen till 
one of them struck him with an iron axe on the head, so that with the 
blow he was struck down/ Eadnoth, our Bishop of Dorchester, and 
iElfhun, Bishop of London, are recorded to have secured the body 
and buried it in S. Paul's Minster. For each step backwards on the 
part of the rulers of the kingdom, counselled by Eadric, the enemy 
made a step forward, and in 1013 the climax came. Sweyn arrived, 
and all the country seems to have submitted to him, one county after 
the other. First all the towns in the old Danelaw on the east and 
north of Waetling Street, and then the Northumbrians, then the people 
of the five boroughs. The Chronicle continues : — 

1 1 01 3. And after he came over Waetling Street, they wrought the 
most evil that any army could do. He then went to Oxford, and the 
townsmen immediately submitted and gave hostages ; and thence to 
Winchester, and they did the same V 

Florence of Worcester, followed almost verbatim by Roger of 
Hoveden, substitutes the following: — 

4 While his men were acting thus and raving like wild beasts, he 
(Suanus) came to Oxford, and obtained that city sooner than he 
thought, and having taken hostages, hastened to Winchester 1 .' 

1 From Chronicles C, D, E. Appendix A, § 49. 

2 From Chronicles C, D, E, and F. Appendix A, § 50. 

3 Florence of Worcester, Chronicon, printed in Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 588. Ap- 
pendix A, § 51. 


Henry of Huntingdon slightly varies the original also, but the sub- 
stance is the same, and William of Malmesbury copies the event in this 
abridged form : — 

' Soon coming to the southern districts, Sweyn obliged the men of 
Oxford and Winchester to obey his laws V 

This shows, perhaps, to what an abject state* the kingdom had been 
brought. Before the victorious march of Sweyn the people seem to 
have been cowed, and to submit rather than fight. Oxford could 
hardly have been yet built up again ; for though erections of wood, or 
of lath and plaster, which no doubt were the materials of most of the 
buildings, did not take so long as stone, the people were probably poor, 
and it would have taken them some three or four years to restore the 
whole of the town. However this may be, it appears they did not wish 
to risk any second burning of the town. They had suffered much from 
Thurkill's army, and they did not see any better chance of being able 
to resist Sweyn's ; besides, they had probably no men, or no defences 
which could resist the incursions, and so they yielded ' sooner than 
Sweyn expected.' 

On Sweyn's death, in 10 14, there seemed to be some chance for 
retrieving England's disaster. The Witan sent after King Ethelred 
saying, £ No lord was dearer to them than their natural lord, if he 
would rule them better than he had before done.' In his reply he 
promised to amend all those things which they all abhorred ; still he 
seems in the last two years of his life to have shown no amendment 
at all. The same year as his promise, Cnut is allowed to deceive the 
people of Lincolnshire, and later on the army which lay at Greenwich — 
the scene of Elphege's murder — was paid twenty-five thousand pounds. 

The year following we read that the great council of the nation is 
held at Oxford, possibly because London was not safe ; and an event 
occurred there which is thus narrated. 

' A. D. 1015. In this year was the great meeting at Oxford; and 
there the ealdorman Eadric insnared Sigeferth and Morkere, the chief 
thanes in the Seven Burghs. He enticed them into his chamber, and 
therein they were foully slain. And the king then took all their pos- 
sessions, and ordered Sigeferth's relict to be taken and brought to 
Malmesbury. Then after a little space Eadmund, iEtheling, went 
thither and took the woman against the King's will and had her for 
his wife. 

' Then before the nativity of S. Mary (Sept. 8) the iEtheling went 
thence from the west, north to the Five Burghs, and immediately took 

1 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Angl., lib. ii. § 177. Eng. Hist. Society's 
ed. vol. i. p. 178. Appendix A, § 52. 



possession of all Sigeferth's and Morkere's property, and all the folk 
submitted to him 1 .' 

Again Florence of Worcester follows closely in the wake of the 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and this in turn is copied almost verbatim by 
Simeon of Durham and Roger of Hoveden : — 

' This year, when there was a great council (placitum) held at 
Oxford, the perfidious ealdorman " Edric Streon " treacherously re- 
ceived into his chamber the most powerful and honourable thanes 
amongst the Seven-borough men, namely Sigeferth and Morcar, sons 
of Earngrim, and ordered them to be secretly killed : and King 
Ethelred took their possessions and ordered Aldgitha the widow of 
Sigeferth to be taken to Malmesbury : and while she was kept there, 
there came thither Eadmund JEtheling, and against the will of his father 
he took her in marriage; and between the feast of the Assumption 
(Aug. 15) and the Nativity of S. Mary (Sept. 8) he went to the Five- 
boroughs and invaded the land of Sigeferth and Morcar, and made 
their people his subjects 2 .' 

Henry of Huntingdon narrates the circumstance, but does not say 
that it took place at Oxford. He writes : — 

1 Anno XV. Ealdorman Eadric betrayed the eminent nobles Sige- 
ferd and Morcher. For when they were called into his chamber he 
had them killed. But Edmund the son of King Ethelred seized their 
lands and married the wife of SigeferdV 

The extract relating to this event from William of Malmesbury has 
already been given 4 , because he has confused two events, and erro- 
neously connected the assassination of the two thanes with the burning 
of S. Frideswide's on S. Brice's day in 1002. 

It is not easy to gauge the importance of this event. Eadric seems 
to have been one of those able yet selfish men who at all periods of 
history have been the curse of humanity. By fluent language they 
gain the popular ear, and by discovering some weakness in those in 
high position and of high character, they pander to it and obtain their 
confidence. To lookers-on it is astonishing how it is that they are 
trusted. Ethelred probably was not altogether bad, but he was led by 
the duplicity and cunning of Eadric, who cared nothing for the king- 
dom, only for himself, and perhaps hoped out of the misery and 
degradation of the kingdom to help on his own advancement and 
obtain still greater power. It is only by considerations such as these, 
that with the King and all the Witan at Oxford, such a crime could 

1 From Chronicles, C, D, E, F. Appendix A, § 53. 

2 Florence of Worcester, Chronicon, printed in the AI011. Hist. Brit. p. 589. 
Appendix A, § 54. 

3 Henry of Huntingdon, Historia Ang/orum, Rolls Series, 1879, p. 181. Ap- 
pendix A, § 55. 4 See ante, p. 146. 


have been ventured on, or allowed to go unpunished. But from 
what is gathered Eadric seems to have made the King and the Witan 
party to his infamy. It is not improbable that he it was who coun- 
selled the secret massacre of the Danes in 1002, and prompted his 
brother in 1009 to advance the charge of treason against Wulfnoth 
child (accused justly or unjustly we do not know), and obtained per- 
mission to go and attack him, by which means the English ships were 
fighting each other instead of joining to fight the Danes. Certain it 
is that he, at this time, as Ealdorman of Mercia, allowed Thorkell's 
army to ravage Oxford, and again in 1010 to ravage all Oxford- 
shire, Buckinghamshire, and Bedfordshire. 

This foolish betrayal and murder of the Danish thanes is in keeping 
with the rest of the deeds for which Eadric's name has been made 
notorious. They were governors of the seven burhs (for York and 
Chester had been added to the names of the five boroughs already 
referred to more than once), and were probably therefore the two 
ealdormen sent to represent the seven shires or districts belonging to 
the said boroughs. 

The plan was probably suggested on account of the blow which it 
was thought would be struck at the Danish power ; or if done by Eadric, 
without the knowledge of others, he would rely for pardon upon his 
pretended zeal for the welfare of his country. He might even calculate 
upon the approval of some, and thus hide his treachery and ingratiate 
himself still further into the favour of his lord and king, and so 
gain further scope for his own aggrandizement. 

As to the facts, there is not much difference between the story as 
told in the Chronicle, and that as told by the other chroniclers. That 
William of Malmesbury should give the name of the widow is but 
natural, as it would most likely have survived in his abbey, by tradition 
if not in the registers. 

It may be presumed that it was thought to be a matter of policy to 
order all Sigeferth's possessions and his widow to be brought to 
Malmesbury, well away from the Five burhs. Whether she had accom- 
panied her husband to Oxford to the Gemot there is nothing to show, 
but the probabilities are that if not there, she was at least away from 
her own people and readily seized. 

While then on the one hand we see that this year Oxford was 
honoured by being the place chosen for the great Gemot of the king- 
dom, it was also dishonoured by a dastardly crime. 

The end of Ethelred's memorable reign was approaching, and the 
end too of the independence of England, so far as it was to be ruled 


by an English king ; and still again it is to be regretted that there is 
every reason to suppose that Oxford was the scene of a tragedy, and 
for the third time dishonoured by a crime. 

King Ethelred at the close of 1015 seems to have been lying ill at 
Corsham, in Wiltshire. The Danes, under Cnut, with 'their usual 
wont,' landed at Sandwich and harried the neighbourhood, and then 
going westward had landed at different seaports seizing whatever they 
found to hand, till they came to the mouth of the Frome ; and going 
up country over Dorsetshire and Wiltshire, they came dangerously 
near where the king lay. Eadric, with his usual show of loyalty, 
gathered forces together, though, as ealdorman of Mercia, his business 
lay elsewhere, and then finding a favourable opportunity, enticed the 
forty ships from the English and submitted to Cnut. As far as can be 
seen he now openly played into the enemy's hands, and he could 
not have done so had he not some considerable followers with him. 
The battles fought were of no avail, and the energy and courage of 
the men who fought were thrown away as long as a large portion of the 
people had been cajoled into caring little for their country's honour, 
and had found a man who either was trusted by the king or who from 
his influence was feared by him, and could thus upset every counsel 
that was rightly tendered, or destroy the effect of every blow which 
was struck in the country's cause. The king himself had probably 
escaped to London, for there can be no doubt he was, when in Wiltshire, 
at Eadric's mercy. Early in the following year, 1016, Cnut, with his 
army, and the ealdorman Eadric with him, marched from Wiltshire, 
apparently side by side, over the Thames at Cricklade, into Eadric's 
own territory, which he was bound to defend. The hopes of the 
country then lay in the ^Etheling Eadmund alone. 

The events of this year, 1016, are many, and rapidly succeed one 
another ; but it is necessary briefly to recapitulate them as they bear 
upon the evidence that the climax took place at Oxford. Eadmund 
did not go to Wessex, as Eadric had gained the ears of the people, 
who seem to have blindly followed him. In the north he hoped for 
better things from Uhtred, but it was not so. Uhtred had before 
yielded to Sweyn, he now yielded to Cnut, but with a different 
result ; for Eadric, finding perhaps a dangerous rival, prompted Cnut, 
on Uhtred's yielding, at once to slay him. Meanwhile the army was 
gathering in different parts in the east of England, and, it would 
appear, dispersing again because of the vacillation of the king. Perhaps 
there was reason now why he could not hope to go out and fight 
Cnut and Eadric with any hope of success ; the twenty-seven years of 


listless government had rendered energy almost useless at the last. 
Still the ^Etheling Eadmund did not despair. Failing in the north to 
raise a patriotic spirit, he seems to have reached his father in London 
before his death, which took place on April 23rd. It is needless to 
say, Eadmund was at once chosen king. The ships of King Cnut 
were on their way to London, expecting no doubt, in the present state 
of affairs, an easy victory. They reached Greenwich on May 7 th, and 
as is described by the Chronicle, proceeding further up, came round 
and behind the bridge by cutting a water-way through the marsh land 
on the Southwark side. 

Eadmund however was there, and a united people at his back, and 
so they withstood the assaults. More than that, a series of campaigns 
were inaugurated which must have taken up the next six or seven 
months to accomplish. The first battle fought against Cnut and the 
traitor was at Gillingham, in Somerset, the next at Sherston, in Wilts, 
and we have a date for this, namely that it did not take place till after 
Midsummer ; then a third campaign near Brentford, which included 
a march into Wessex, to gather men and a defence of London; a 
fourth took place in Kent, and here, strange as it may seem, ealdorman 
Eadric meets the king at Aylesford; and if the words, ' never was 
greater evil counsel counselled than this was,' are taken literally, it 
would imply that Eadmund had actually listened to his father's enemy 
and his country's traitor. The campaigns however went on. The 
fifth at Assandun in Essex, where it would seem Eadric was again 
pretending to fight on the English side, and again £ betraying 
his royal lord and the English race.' Here was an ealdorman by 
name JSlfric 1 slain. Then Cnut lead his army into Gloucestershire, 
where he learned that King Eadmund was. Unhappily again, Eadric 
was there, and a treaty was agreed upon. This again seems strange after 
all that had occurred. We read the Witan was there ; but then, no doubt, 
Eadric had a strong political party behind him — a party whose cry must 
have been peace at all hazards and at any cost. Eadmund, who had 
shown the spirit of JElfred, must have heard the speeches which were 
made there with disgust; and it is not too much to suppose that Eadric 
laid stress on the precedent of Alfred's treaty with Guthrum in 878, 
which was signed probably not many miles distant from the island 
where they met; it is an island, which the dividing stream of the 

1 It could scarcely have been the Mercian ealdorman of that name who treacher- 
ously deserted in 992 and in 1003 shammed sickness before the battle. See ante, 
p. 148. Possibly, however, it may be the one who signed iEthelred's charter to 
S. Frideswide, see p. 145. 


Severn makes opposite Gloucester, and which the chronicler names as 
' Olaney near Deorhyrste V The Chronicle then proceeds : — 

' And then they separated with this agreement, and Eadmund took 
to Wessex and Cnut to Mercia. And the army then went to their 
ships, with the things that they had taken, and the Londoners made a 
truce with the army, and bought themselves peace ; and the army j 
brought their ships to London and took them winter quarters therein. 
Then on S. Andrew's Mass-day (Nov. 30) King Eadmund died, and his 
body lies at Glastonbury with his grandfather Eadgar. 

' 1017. In this year King Cnut succeeded to all the kingdom of the 
Angle-race and divided it into four : to himself Wessex, and to Thor- 
kell East-Angli , and to Eadric Mercia and to Eric Northumbria V 

It must have been with a very heavy heart that Eadmund, after the 
signing of the treaty, set out on his journey home : that home was 
probably London. There he had been proclaimed king; there his 
friends were gathered ; there he was more wanted than anywhere else ; 
but it is clear he never reached that city. 

Florence of Worcester, it is true, adds that he died at ' London/ 
but as he uses no other sources than the Chronicle itself at this time, 
it is clearly an interpolation — either a guess, or an error, from London 
appearing in the previous line 3 ; but he is copied by Simeon of 
Durham, and Roger of Hoveden 4 . 

But Henry of Huntingdon gives the circumstances of Eadmund's 
death in detail, and he says it occurred in Oxford. His account runs I] 
in substance thus : — 

' Edmund the King was a few days afterwards killed at Oxford by 
treachery. And thus he was murdered. When the King, so terrible 
to his enemies, and so much feared in his kingdom, went one night into 
his private chamber, the son of ealdorman Edric, who had by the counsel 
of his father, concealed himself there ... he stabbed the King twice J 
with a sharp knife, leaving the instrument in the wound, and then left j 
him and fled. Edric then coming to King Cnut saluted him saying, J 
" Hail, thou art sole king ! " When he had made manifest what he had 
done, the King replied, " I will make thee on account of thy most high j 
deserts, higher than all the tall men of the English." And so he 
ordered him to be beheaded, and his head to be fixed on the top of a 1 

1 The island is marked on the Ordnance map as Alney, and is of considerable 

2 From Chronicles, C, D, E, F. Appendix A, § 56. I 

3 Just in the same way Florence of Worcester stands alone amongst the 
chroniclers (excepting of course those who have copied from him) in making 
King Harold die at London, instead of Oxford, in 1040. 

4 Other later writers, e. g. Brompton, Knighton, etc., sometimes follow Florence 1 
of Worcester, sometimes Henry of Huntingdon. For a summary of the variations 

see Freeman's Norman Conquest; Appendix XX, third ed. 1877, vol. i. p. 711. I 


pole, on the highest tower of London. Thus died Edmund, a brave 
king, after he had reigned but one year, and he was buried next to 
Edgar his grandfather at Glastonbury V 

William of Malmesbury tells the story of the violent death of 
Eadmund, which he speaks of as being a matter of general rumour. 
It is somewhat the same story as that told by flenry of Huntingdon, 
as a matter of actual fact. The former however does not name any 
place as the scene of his death. He writes : — 

1 And soon afterwards on the feast of S. Andrew [Nov. 30] Edmund 
died — it is doubtful by what accident — and was buried at Glastonbury 
near to his grandfather Edgar. Rumour asperses Edric that to obtain 
the favour of Cnut, he compassed his death by means of his own ser- 
vants. It is said that there were two kings chamberlains to whom the 
King entrusted wholly his life ; these he won over by promises, and 
though they were at first much horrified at the enormity of the crime, 
in a short time he managed to make them his accomplices V 

It will be observed that William of Malmesbury speaks of the story 
as an aspersion on Eadric, and perhaps, if he had no better authority 
than general rumour, this might well suggest itself to him. But it 
ought not to be allowed to weigh too much against the definite narra- 
tive of Henry of Huntingdon's statement, that he met with a violent 
death in Oxford. 

And a general survey of the surrounding circumstances points in this 
direction. Allowing for the time necessary for the events of the year, 
the treaty of Olney must have been in November ; there it is that we 
last hear of Eadmund, and in this month he died. As already said, he 
never appears to have reached London at all, whither there is little doubt 
he would be bound. The negative evidence of his name not appear- 
ing in the narrative of the events which took place at London, when 
the Londoners made a truce with the army and bought themselves 
peace, is very strong. The positive statement that he was buried at 
Glastonbury is stronger. For had he reached London before he died, 
he would undoubtedly have been buried in S. Paul's, where his father 
-^Ethelred had been buried in April of the same year. 
. Oxford lay in the direct line from Gloucester to London by almost 
any route likely to be taken, and, more than that, there is a special 
reason why Oxford may well have been chosen as a place for the 
crime, if crime it was. By the terms of the treaty, Wessex was to be 

1 Henry of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum, Rolls Series, 1879, P- l8 5- Ap- 
pendix A, § 57. 

2 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Angl. Engl. Hist. Society's ed., London 
1840, lib. ii. § 180, p. 303. Appendix A, § 58. 


in the future the kingdom of the English king. Once there, the loyalty 
of his people would protect him, for his misfortunes would win for him 
their sympathy. Once past the borders — once out of the kingdom of 
Mercia — nay more, once outside the south gate of the border town of 
Oxford, he would be safe, and after all Eadric's strategy and villany his 
chosen lord, King Cnut, might fail to gain and hold the whole king- 
dom, and he himself enjoy the personal honours for which he had so 
basely striven. This was the last chance when a successful blow 
could be struck ; Eadric too was well acquainted with this last halting- 
place within his dominion, and as ealdorman of Mercia he was all- 
powerful there, and no one could question his acts. Moreover the 
man who employed assassins to strike down the thanes Sigeferth and 
Morcar at his bidding there, only the year before, might well know 
what hands could be relied upon for a similar purpose now. 

While accepting the outline of the story, there is no necessity of 
accepting the details ; they are simply such as would occur to the his- 
torian to add in order to accentuate the enormity of the crime — and 
his story of Cnut's sentence of punishment, that his head should be 
cut off and raised on a pole on the highest tower of London, must be 
attributed to poetic licence. While we learn, however, that Cnut did 
reward him for his general treachery by confirming him in his old 
command over Mercia as ealdorman, we also learn that in the fol- 
lowing year he was slain in London ; and as the Chronicle adds, ' very 
rightly/ it is not unreasonable to suppose that, presuming too much 
on his power and popularity, he entered London, and that the loyal 
subjects of the murdered Eadmund avenged themselves on the mur- 
derer. Florence of Worcester hints that it was by Cnut's orders that 
Eadric was assassinated as being a dangerous man, and in this 
respect he would, so far as this point is concerned, be in agreement 
with Henry of Huntingdon. Still, on the whole, Cnut's tenure of the 
kingdom was of too uncertain a character to risk such a step, if, as 
seems to have been the case, Eadric had a large following : it was 
different in the case of his ordering the ^Etheling Eadwy to be slain 
the following year, as few perhaps would be found to avenge it. 

It may perhaps be asked, ' How is it that Henry of Huntingdon 
should learn that such a circumstance had taken place in Oxford, 
unknown to all the other chroniclers ? ' In answer to this the following 
considerations may be worth a moment's attention. The position and 
influence of the instigators of the assassination may well have prevented 
a record being made in the Chronicles, and hence the handing down 
of the story would have to depend wholly upon tradition ; and further, 


in no place would that tradition be likely to be better preserved than 
where the event took place. Now there is reason to suppose that 
Henry of Huntingdon had an intimate friend in Oxford, an historian 
like himself, who probably assisted him with material in compiling his 
history. His name was Walter ; and Henry addresses to him an epistle 
upon the ' contempt of this world's honours.' This was no doubt Walter 
the Archdeacon of Oxford, a name which we frequently meet with at 
this time \ It may fairly be advanced, then, that Henry of Hunting- 
don had in Oxford a friend who, from his fondness for history, was 
likely to be well acquainted with the traditions of the place and who 
would have told him of such though not to be found in writing. The 
Archdeacon died about the year 1140, and just before Henry's epistle 
reached him, for it ends with his epitaph. If the Archdeacon was 
seventy years of age at his death he might in his youth have conversed 
with people who were actually living when the murder took place 2 . 

Passing on we come to the year 10 18, and we find that Oxford 
again plays a part in the chapter of English history. Already a 
Gemot had been called and held by Cnut in London, in which the 
general settlement of the kingdom was arranged. At Oxford there 
seems to have been a special Gemot for deciding upon the laws which 
should be accepted as the common laws of the land. The words of 
the Chronicle are, as usual, very concise : — 

' A. D. 1018. And the Danes and the Angles were unanimous at 
Oxford for Eadgar's law 3 .' 

Florence of Worcester, followed by Roger of Hoveden, simply 
translates the exact words, and that very closely. Neither Henry 
of Huntingdon nor William of Malmesbury refer to this assembly at 

England was now entirely under the Danish King Cnut, and his 
holding a council at Oxford shows to what importance the place had 
now risen. No doubt its central position had something to do with 

1 His name appears as a signature as early as 11 15. He appears amongst 
others at the foundation of Godestow Nunnery in n 39 and signs the charter 
officially. Geoffrey of Monmouth {Hist. Brit. lib. i. § 1) refers to Walter 
the Archdeacon of Oxford, a man skilled in oratory and learned in foreign his- 
tories. Geoffrey Gaimar also mentions ' Le bon livere de Oxenford, ki fust Walter 
l'Arcediacn' (L'Estorie line 69 from end). The Epistle to him is printed as the 
last tract in Wharton's Anglia Sacra, vol. ii. p. 694. Also as an Appendix in Henry 
of Huntingdon. Rolls Series, 1879, p. 2 97- 

2 Henry of Huntingdon in recounting the burning at the massacre of S. Brice, 
says 'of this, I in my youth heard some very old people speak.' See ante, p. 147. 

3 This is from Chron. C. It is followed almost literatim in Chrons. D, E, F, 
Appendix A, § 59. 



the choice, as well as the fact that it was situated on the chief river 
of the country when rivers afforded the chief means of communica- 
tion. The Thames had ceased to be the boundary between two great 
divisions of the kingdom, but the old traditional boundaries of Mercia 
and Wessex had, nevertheless, a considerable influence in the selection of 
the place \ The result of the meeting seems to have been a complete 
reconciliation between the new subjects and their new king. It is the 
first event that we have yet come to of this class. In 912 Oxford is 
being prepared to resist the attack of the Danes ; in 1002 it is the 
scene of the burning of unsuspecting Danes who had fled to a church 
for safety. In 1009 the city is sacked and burned by the Danes; and 
in 1013 it ignominiously surrenders to a Danish king; in 1015 it saw 
the treacherous murder of two of the chiefs of an important district in 
the power of the Danes ; in 10 16, it is the scene of the assassination 
of the English king through indirect Danish influences. 

It is a relief therefore now to find at the end of the story in which 
Oxford seems to have played so important a part, that something was 
done here to promote the welfare of the country. It is satisfactory too 
to find that though a Danish king presided over the Gemot, the old 
laws of the country were to be retained and to be in force for English- 
man and Dane alike, and so in a measure the subjection to a foreign 
ruler would be the less felt. 

It is probable that in these troublous times the Gemots were all 
held within what are called the Castle precincts. Occupied now by the 
county courts and prison, the area is a large one, and was larger still 
before the New Road was carried across the inner bailey at the foot of 
the Castle mound, a mound so familiar to all who go from Carfax to 
the Railway Station, but perhaps looked upon by few as so fraught 
with historical associations. As already said, it was constructed there 
at the beginning of the history of Oxford, namely in 912, to prevent 
the inroads of the Danes, and now, in 1018, beneath its shadow a 
Gemot was held presided over by a Danish king. Within the precincts 
were houses set apart for the royal residence. In one of the apart- 

1 The Chronicles under the year 1017 refer to the fourfold division of the country 
under Cnut, viz. Northumberland, East Anglia, Mercia and Wessex. See ante, 
p. 158, while the old divisions appear to survive in fact, though described differently, 
to the Conqueror's time, if the laws which bear his name can be accepted as genuine. 
In those ' De Pace Regia' the difference of the 1 bot' is thus expressed: • Secundum 
Merchena-lahe c, solidos pene ; secundum Dene-lahe pena CXLini librorum, et 
forisfactum regis, quod ad vicecomitem pertinet, scilicet XL solidos in Merchene- 
lahe et L solidos in Westsaxene-lahe.' (Thorpe's Ancient Laws and Institutes, 
vol. i. p. 467). Whatever was the influence, certain it is that Oxford was also 
chosen as the place of the Gemot, as will be seen, in 1036 and again in 1065. 


ments iEthelweard the king's son breathed his last. In another, pro- 
bably, the Northern thanes, Sigeferth and Morkar, led from the great 
banqueting hall, were betrayed and slain. In another, perhaps, King 
Eadmund was foully murdered. Over all these events that lofty mound 
has cast its shadow ; it is all that we possess to connect the present 
with those times. The deep ditches have been filled up 1 , and a portion 
only of their line is marked by the current of water which supplies the 
Castle mill. Above the mill rises the great tower ; that tower saw the 
results of the Norman Conquest, and indeed may itself be said to be 
one of them. But the mound alone of all that remains has looked 
down upon the Danish Conquest and all its attendant humiliations 
and horrors, which have been described in this and the preceding 

1 The best view of the Castle mound is obtained by mounting a few steps leading 
from Bulwarks-Lane on to the piece of high ground in front of Elm Cottages, at 
the back of the new High School for boys in George Street, and looking over the 
site of Jews' Mount (i.e. Mont de juis). The view over the Castle mound is 
undisturbed and, as few houses are visible, one is able somewhat to conjure up the 
scene as it really presented itself in the days to which these historical notes refer. 

M % 


Oxford during the Fifty Years before the 
Norman Conquest. 

The destruction which had been wrought by the burning and plunder- 
ing of the Danes in 1009 must have left Oxford in a very desolate 
state, and the constant drain of money and men during the costly but 
futile attempts to repel the Danes, must have left little opportunity for 
the town to retrieve the losses it had sustained. Although Cnut was 
a foreign king, it was agreed by the Gemot held here in 1018 that the 
English laws should be obeyed; and we may therefore presume 
that with peace there was some chance of prosperity returning to the 
town, and this view is borne out by an incidental reference to Oxford 
relating to this time. It is not found in the Chronicle, or, indeed, in 
any of the chroniclers, but amongst the charters of the great abbey in 
the neighbouring town of Abingdon, and in connection with a little 
village in Berkshire, about four miles north of Wantage, and ten miles 
south-west of Oxford, now known as Lyford, but in the charters and 
in the Domesday Survey spelt Linford. The date of the charter is 
1034, and it runs as follows: — 

' . . . . Wherefore I Cnut, by God's free mercy and especial 
goodness King of all Albion, have granted for ever the small plot of 
ground which is called by the inhabitants of these parts Linford, 
that is to say sufficient quantity for two tenants, and a certain 
minster {monasteriolum) dedicated in honour of Saint Martin, Bishop, 
together with its adjacent messuage (praediolo) 1 in the city which is 
called by the celebrated name of Oxford, to our Lord Jesus Christ 
and to his ever- virgin Mother Mary, for the use of the monks in 
Abingdon . . . ? * 

1 The exact force of the words monasteriolum and praediolum cannot perhaps 
be determined definitely. They are probably translations of the words used in the 
Saxon charters. The former means quite as frequently a church as a monastery ; 
the praediolum was probably equivalent to the glebe land attached, or, in a town, 
certain messuages, the rental of which would help to sustain a priest. 

2 Abingdon Abbey Chronicle, Rolls Series, London, 1858, vol. i. p. 439. It 
should perhaps be added that Mr. Stevenson, the editor, who has had great 


The boundaries of the land at Lyford are then given, and at the end 
is added, in one of the two manuscripts of the Chronicle, and in the 
language of the time, the following : — 

1 This land-plot bequeathed Ethelwine unto Abbendune and the 
hagse at Oxnaford, in which he himself " onsaet " [i.e. dwelt], before 
many witnesses 1 .' *" 
The witnesses included Cnut, Elgyfu (praedicti Regis conlaterand) 
JEthelnoth, Archbishop of the church of Canterbury, JElfric, Arch- 
bishop of the city of York, six other bishops, whose names are 
given, four abbots, two priests, two ealdormen (that is, Godwine and 
Leofric), fifteen thanes, and one praefectus (i.e. reeve) 2 . 

Later on in the same chronicle there is still a further reference to 
the gift of S. Martin's Church. 

1 And when Abbot Athelwin, a man very vigorous in the conduct of 
secular as well as ecclesiastical matters, came to the end of his days, 
Siward, a monk from the Abbey of Glastonbury, succeeded him. It 
was due to the kindness which King Cnut knew rightly to prevail 
with him that the said King gave out of charity the Church of 
S. Martin in Oxford, together with a messuage {praediolum) V 

Although the grant is of a certain 'minster' of S. Martin, and there- 
fore, taken literally, might be said to imply that there was a church 
already in existence, still practically there is no reason to doubt that 
this charter of King Cnut represents, with the transference of the 
land to Abingdon Abbey, the foundation of the church. 

As already pointed out 4 , the grant of a site for a church in the centre 
of the town points very strongly to there being no parish church here 
before, and therefore it is a distinct step in advance : as other churches 
were built and parishes came to be established, they were distributed 
round the central parish which formed the nucleus, so to speak, of 
the whole. 

But with prosperity to the town generally it seems strange that we 
hear no more of S. Frideswide's. The three hydes round Oxford, 
and the two hydes at Cutslow, and the hyde at Whithull, with the ten 
hydes at Winchendon in Buckinghamshire, seemingly constituted all 
their possessions from Ethelred's time (1004) onwards, as is shown by 

experience, pronounces it in his opinion ' a genuine document.' Vol. ii. p. 523. It 
is printed in the Codex Diplomaticus, No. 746, vol. iv. p. 38. Appendix A, § 60. 

1 Abingdon Abbey Chronicle, Rolls Series, vol. i. p. 440. In the other MS. the 
same passage is given in Latin. 

2 The charter is not dated. The signatures seem to give the date as 1032-1034, 
though the identification of all the bishops is not certain. 

•' Abingdon Abbey Chronicle, Rolls Series, vol. i. p. 443. 
4 See ante, p. 1 2 1 . 


the survey of 1087 1 . The monastery seems from some cause or 
another not to have displayed any energy whatever. To have allowed 
a neighbouring monastery some six miles off, and in another county, 
to build and hold a church (and this is what the charter practically 
amounts to) in the very centre of the town, and within two hundred 
and fifty yards of their very gates, betokens either great apathy, or 
else they were in so poor a condition that they could not build any 
churches themselves, or in such poor estimation that they excited no 
generosity on the part of their friends. Although in the reign of King 
Henry I. they seem to have made up for lost time, there does not 
appear, so far as can be gathered by the Domesday Survey, that they 
had now, nor for the next fifty years, any church in Oxford whatever 
served from their monastery, except the single church within their own 
precincts. Were it not for the absence of such errors as usually dis- 
figure forged charters, and the corroboration in Domesday, there 
would be reason on account of such absolute silence to suspect 
Ethelred's charter to be a fabrication of the twelfth century 2 . 

And here perhaps a word should be said respecting a somewhat 
unsatisfactory paragraph, which in the Cartulary follows on after the 
charter relating to Ethelred's restoration of S. Frideswide's in 1004 ; 
and, as will be observed, it professes to relate to events which happened 
after that date 3 . It runs as follows : — 

* Now the aforesaid King Ethelred increased the said church as he 
had before promised as [is read] in the chronicles. 

' And afterwards before God subjected England to the people of 
Normandy, this church with its possessions was given by a certain king 
to a certain abbot of Abingdon : the secular canons are related to have 
therefore been despoiled of their possessions, and driven from their 
abode ; and the property being transferred to the monks, was at their 
disposal for some years. 

* Afterwards, as it is the case with the affairs of mortals, by the 
beneficence of a certain king, their property was, after deliberate 
counsel, restored to the aforesaid canons. And up to the year of our 
Lord's incarnation 1122, they ruled over the same church V 

It may however be possible that, though the compiler of the 
Cartulary has placed the above memorandum (for it is not in any 

1 Against the addition of an hyde 'juxta Oxon ' is to be set the omission in the 
Domesday Survey of the one hyde of Whithill. 

a Kemble, in the Codex Diplomaticus, No. 709, vol. iii. p. 327, puts for 
some reason an asterisk to it, implying that, in his opinion, it was not genuine. 

3 The charter is printed ante, p. 142, but see also ante, p. 139. 

4 From the larger cartulary of S. Frideswide in the possession of the Dean and 


sense a deed) after the charter of King Ethelred, and implied that 
what is recorded took place between the restoration by that king and 
the Norman Conquest, he has done so in error; and that the source 
of his statement, whether tradition or document, has been misunder- 
stood. It has already been pointed out 1 , when discussing a similar state- 
ment relating to the introduction of secular calions, that the granting 
of the abbey to a certain abbot of Abingdon was most likely when 
Abbot ^Ethelwold was made Bishop of Winchester, and in 964, as 
is recorded, besought King Eadgar to give him certain monasteries 
to restore 2 : as the energetic disciple of S. Dunstan, his first care was to 
turn out secular canons and put regulars in their place ; in some cases 
perhaps there was some injustice, in others perhaps, where reform was 
absolutely needed, the change was attended with beneficial results. 
The reference to the king restoring the seculars seems also to point 
to this view of the origin of the passage, for on the accession of 
Eadward (the second king of that name, and called the Martyr) in 
975, the monks in their turn, as already shown when discussing the 
question, were driven out and the seculars restored. 

There is, however, a singular record, which points to the replacing 
of monks by canons at a date after ^Gthelred's charter of 1004, Y1Z - 
a passage, which Leland in his Collectanea 3 gives as Ex veteri codice 
Rofensis Monasterii, and belonging to the year 1049, an d which runs 
as follows 4 : — 


Canons of Christchurch, folio 8. Printed very imperfectly in Dugdale, vol. ii. p. 144. 
Appendix A, § 61. 

1 See ante, p. 1 39. 

2 The entry there adduced in support of this explanation, it should be observed, 
is from the Bodleian copy of the Chronicle, i. e. Chronicle E, which is supposed 
to have been compiled at Peterborough, and takes especial notice of events in 
Mercia. The full wording of the passage is as follows : ' In the year after he was 
hallowed [i. e. Athelwold, Abbot of Abingdon, who had been hallowed Bishop of 
Winchester, Nov. 29, 963] he made monasteries, and drove the clerks out of the 
bishopric because that they would not hold any rule, and set monks there .... 
Then afterwards he came to King Eadgar and besought him that he would give him 
all the monasteries which heathens before had ruined, because that he would restore 
them ; and the king blithely granted it.' 

3 Leland, Collectanea, vol. iii. p. 73. Printed in Hearne's ed.,i774, vol. iv. p. 72. 

4 After some trouble a MS. containing the passage has been found. Possibly it 
was only an abstract of this which Leland saw. It is a chronicle evidently com- 
piled at Rochester, consisting of 200 large folio leaves with double columns written 
in one hand down to 1275, with illustrations (some of which are copied apparently 
from a much earlier MS.), and continued by later hands to 1307. It is preserved, 
in the Cottonian Library (Nero, D. 2) and the passage occurs on folio 98 a. Eodem 
etiam anno institutio Canonicorum Sancte Frideswide de Oxonia. The incidental 
reference to a neighbouring monastery is not one likely to have been interpolated 

I without some authority. 


* 1049. King Edward the third, who is called Saint Edward, restored 
the Monastery of S. Peter at Westminster and extended it, by granting 
abundant possessions and liberties. The same year was the institution 
of the canons of S. Frideswide at Oxford.' 
Here, since a definite date is given for the change, there is more 
reason to accept the passage, but still the possibility remains that the 
chronicler has made a mistake between Eadward the Martyr and 
Eadward the Confessor, and has transposed a passage belonging to 
the one to a date which belongs to the other: while another writer 
has referred to the regulars taking the place of the seculars later still, 
giving the rather improbable date of 1060 \ 

The statement that the monastery was given to ' a certain abbot of 
Abingdon ' has led some to suppose that at one time the indepen- 
dence of S. Frideswide was at an end, and that it became simply a 
cell to the larger abbey. Although this would account for the circum- 
stance of the central church of the town being in the hands of the 
neighbouring monastery, on the whole it is not at all probable. The 
Abingdon Chronicle is so full in recording the events of the period, 
and the charters so numerous, that it is impossible to conceive any 
great accession to the power and influence of Abingdon, as this would 
amount to, without some record showing itself directly or indirectly. 

As a matter of fact, throughout the seven hundred and forty printed 
pages which the Chronicle occupies, S. Frideswide is only mentioned 
twice; once in connection with some exchange of land in Henry I's 
reign circa 1 1 20, and once in connection with S. Aldate's church during 
the rule of abbot Ingulph, which commenced n 30. 

Abingdon undoubtedly was very wealthy at this time. This is 
apparent, not from the fact only that we possess so fine a cartulary 
preserved amidst the pages of a Chronicle, but from the fact that the 
Domesday Survey testifies materially to the truth of the acquisition 
which most of the charters purport to represent. Their property by de- 
grees had come up close to Oxford during the previous century, forming 
as it were a belt round Oxford on the southern and western side. 
Charters granted by King Edwy 2 in 955-6 had practically subjected 

1 What could be the origin of this statement given in Sir John Peshall's edition 
of Antony a Wood's notes on the city of Oxford (London, 1773, p. 121) has not 
been discovered. It runs as follows: ' 1060, The secular canons of S. Frid. being 
expelled from the monastery on account of their having wives, King Edward ordered 
a set of regulars to succeed them in their office at the instance of Pope Nicholas II.' 

2 Chron. Mon. Ab„ Rolls Series, p. 180. While Seacourt only just exists in name 
on the way to Wytham, the local names of the fields and meadows given in the 
course of the boundaries have been lost, so that the demarcation cannot be made 
out ; but it is clear a considerable portion of the river Thames — namely from the 


twenty hydes, including Hincksey {Hengestes-ige\ Seacourt (Seofecan- 
wyrthe), and, just beyond it to the north, Wytham (Wihtham). Also 
twenty-five hydes at Bay worth (B&genweorthe) 1 , and certain land at 
Kennington (Cenigiune)' 1 . Some few years later, i.e. in 985, Ethelred 
had completed the circuit by a grant of ten hydes at Wootton 3 . That 
their property came up to the very Thames on' the eastern side, even 
close to Oxford, is illustrated by the dispute, in 945 or thereabouts, 
concerning Beri meadow, the large piece of meadow land lying in the 
Thames, over against Iffley, and about which there was some doubt 
whether it belonged to Oxfordshire or Berkshire. It appears — 
if we accept the story which the monk tells us — that the abbey gained 
the victory ; but the means were perhaps not those which would be 
successful in these days 4 . 

S. Frideswide's monastery, then, if not subjected to Abingdon, was 
at least thrown into the shade by its wealthier and more energetic 
neighbour — and yet as Oxford, now under the Danish rule, was seem- 
ingly in a prosperous condition, retrieving the devastations of past 
years, S. Frideswide ought to have exhibited some prosperity also. 
That we have no charter or reference to any before the time of 
Ethelred in 1004 is accounted for by the loss by fire. That we have 
no account of grants of land to the monastery between that date and 
the time of Henry I, cannot be explained in the same manner. 

r Great Ford up to ' Eanflseds-gelade ' — formed the northern boundary. There is 
reason to suppose that this was a restoration of property after the Danish incur- 
sions, as they seem to have obtained a confirmation charter of all their property 
on the south side of the Thames in this neighbourhood (including Hincksey, 
Cumnor, Kennington, &c.) in 825 from Coenulf, King of Mercia, so as to be safe 
when the land was shifting backwards and forwards from one kingdom to another 
{ante, p. 11 1). Further ( Chron. Ab., p. 126) the chronicler contends that it was all 
granted originally by King Cead walla, as if it had been the original property of Hean. 
\ 1 Chron. Mon. Ab., Rolls Series, p. 219. The name by which the manor of the 
25 hydes was known, is only represented now by the farm on the west of Bagley 
Wood. Very few of the local names of the fields and boundary lines have survived. 

2 Chron. Mon. Ab., p. 216. It evidently lay between the river on the east side 
j and ' Baggan-worth ' of the previous charter on the west side, and occupied what 
j is now Bagley Wood. Elsewhere in the general charter relating to the Cumnor 

district (see ibid. pp. 126 and 176), reference is made to the Bacgan-leah, which 
name we retain in the well-known Bag-ley Wood. 

3 Chron. Mon. Ab., p. 401. In the boundaries attached to the vill, and practi- 
cally forming the parish of Wootton, between three and four miles south-west of 
Oxford, are several names which occur in the other charters, thus uniting the series. 

j There are also one or two survivals in the names, e. g. fox hola cumbe, in Fox- 
j combe hill ; cealdan-wylle, probably in Chil'swell farm ; blacan grave in Biackgrove 
I farm. In one of the general boundaries (p. 126) we get brom-cumbe, which 
I possibly survives in Browncomb Wood close to Bay worth. 

4 Chron. Mon. Ab., p. 88. See a summary of the case given in Proceedings 
of the O. A. & H. S., vol. ii. p. 169. 


Besides Abingdon, which lay six miles to the south and on the 
Berkshire side of the river, there was another formidable rival to 
S. Frideswide's springing up some six miles to the west on the Oxford- 
shire side, namely at Ensham. At the very beginning of the eleventh 
century iEthelmar, ealdorman of Devonshire, the same who was one 
of those to submit to Sweyn, in 1013 1 — had exchanged with his son- 
in-law ^Ethelweard certain lands, giving him thirty-six mansiones, in 
different districts, against thirty mansiunculi, and had established at 
Ensham a monastery. The charter of King Ethelred 2 , which is dated 
1005, must from the signatures have been completed not later than that 
date, and the greater number are the same as those who sign Ethelred's 
charter, restoring S. Frideswide's. It must be observed however that 
these lands, so far as may be judged from the boundaries of the grants 
made to them at this date, appear to lie for the most part some dis- 
tance from the abbey; and thirty manses of land which were close to 
it are on the north-west, and so not calculated to encroach upon the 
immediate neighbourhood of Oxford. It must also be observed that 
as regards accession of lands, so far as can be judged from the absence 
of charters, and the presence of a single entry only in the Domesday 
Survey, they were not more prosperous than the Oxford house. 
Although, as has been pointed out, there is not sufficient ground to 
suppose that S. Frideswide put itself under the protection of Abingdon, 
there is the clear evidence of a valuable charter, a copy of which is 
preserved in the Ensham chartulary, that this monastery became 
practically an adjunct to the minster of S. Mary at Stowe in Lincoln- 
shire, which, in 1040, was founded mainly by the bounty of Leofric 
and the Lady Godiva. This accounts, partly, for the meagre ap- 
pearance which the abbey shows in Domesday. On the other hand, 
by the chance of fortune, at a later period, the Eynsham house be- 
came celebrated, and the house of Stowe declined, so that the reverse 
of what had originally happened took place, and the house at Stowe 
was merged into that at Ensham. Still it must not be overlooked 
that in the eleventh century the union of the two monasteries of Stowe 
and Eynsham created a rival influence which might well have inter- 
fered with S. Frideswide's prosperity : and in the Domesday Survey it 
is found that Ensham had a church in Oxford, namely, S. Ebbe's. 

1 A.-S. Chron. sub anno 1013 : 'After the Danes had come over Wjetling Street, 
and when Oxford submitted, they went afterwards to Bath. And thither came the 
ealdorman ^Ethelmar and the western thanes with him, and they all submitted to 
Svein, and gave hostages.' 

2 Kemble, Codex Diplomaticus, No. DCCXIV, vol. iii. p. 339. 


At the same time that the Monastery of S. Frideswide seemingly 
was shedding no lustre over the city of Oxford, as others were over 
the cities in which they were situated, the place of the Bishop's seat, 
namely Dorchester, so far as can be ascertained, was not in any way 
bringing the diocese into prominence on account of the energy or 
ability of its successive Bishops. Something' perhaps may be put 
down to the account of the diocesan registers having been lost in all 
probability when the see was removed by Remigius to Lincoln, in 1092 ; 
for he may well have been too intent upon his new foundation, to think 
about taking the proper precautions to preserve the story of the old 
one. That there had been registers kept here seems certain from 
such entries as the baptism of the kings Cynegils, Cwichelm, and 
Cuthred, having found their way into the Chronicles 1 . Yet it would 
appear that William of Malmesbury, when he wrote his History of 
the Bishops in n 25 — that is, some thirty-five years only after the trans- 
lation of the bishopric — was unable to obtain any information about the 
diocese, and apparently had difficulty in making out even a complete 
list of the bishops. It is quite possible that he made it from the 
signatures to the few charters to which he had access. 

Whether or not in the course of his researches, which distinctly in- 
cluded visits to Glastonbury and Oxford, he went to Dorchester to 
discover what archives might exist, cannot be determined. He seems 
however to write as if from his own experience when he commences 
his account of the diocese with the words Dorcestra est villa in paga 
Oxnefordensi exilis et infrequens. He however goes on to say that 
the old church with its chapels (of which we have at most but the 
lower part of one wall remaining, if even that) 2 was remaining in his 
time in good condition and repair, as he writes, Majestas tamen ecclesi- 
arum magna, sen veteri opera, sen sedulitate nova. 

As regards the bishops, they seem during this century rather to have 
had their chief seat here than at Leicester, which was the case in the 
last century, but what the extent of their diocese was it is impossible 
to determine. After Eadnoth and Escwi, which brought the list of the 

1 See ante, p. 86. 

2 The lower portion of the north wall of the nave shows rather early character 
outside, against which the cloister of the monastery was erected. When the 
monastery was founded in Stephen's reign, i.e. 1140, and when, in the following 
reign, they began building a new and larger church, they may well have made use 
of some of the walling ; but as they would want to keep the old building for the 
service till the new one was erected, they would most likely build on one side of it, 
and might therefore have utilised this one piece of wall only. As one cannot point 
to any masonry in the neighbourhood of Oxford existing, which was standing at this 
period, it is thought well to note this, though only a possible case. 


bishops down to 1002 1 , the next four given by William of Malmes- 
bury are, Elfhelm, a second Eadnoth, Etheric, and then a third Eadnoth. 
The signatures of these range between 1002 and 1046. Of the second 
of them we read in the Chronicle, under 1012, that Eadnoth of Dor- 
chester was one of the two bishops (Elfhun of London being the other) 
to receive the body of the murdered JGlfhege when brought into 
London from Greenwich, and who buried it in ' S. Paul's Church.' 
Later on, under the year 10 16, we find that this Eadnoth was fighting 
at the battle of Assandun, and was amongst those who were slain, 
owing mainly, if we can trust the chronicler, to the treachery of 
Eadric. Of Bishop Etheric we read nothing; but of the third Eadnoth 
and of his successor we obtain some glimpse in a notice of him, told 
somewhat differently in different copies of the Chronicle. In Chronicle 
C, under the year 1049, we find : — 

' And in this year died Eadnoth, the good Bishop of Oxfordshire; 
and Oswig, Abbot of Tborney ; and Wulfnoth, Abbot of Westminster ; 
and King Eadward gave the bishoprick to Ulf, his priest, and ill 
bestowed it.' 

In Chronicle D the writer places the death of Eadnoth under the year 
1 050, and varies the latter part. 

1 In this year died [....] of Oxfordshire, Oswig, Abbot of Thorney, 
and Wulfnoth, Abbot of Westminster; and Ulf, the priest, was placed as 
pastor to the Bishoprick that Eadnoth had held ; but he was afterwards 
driven away because he performed nothing bishoplike therein, so that 
it shames us now to tell more V 

In Chronicle E the death is placed under 1046 and in F under 1048. 
It was Eadnoth, as we learn from the Ensham story, who built the 
church of S. Mary at Stowe in Lincolnshire, to which was affiliated 
the newly founded abbey of Ensham, but in contrast to this there 
seems to be no good word for Ulf. This arises from his being one of 
the foreign chaplains brought over to England, and therefore looked 
upon as an intruder. But it would appear that elsewhere than in 
England he was found unfit, for two of the Chronicles describe his 
visit to Rome. 

' And afterwards the pope had a synod at Vercelli, and Bishop Ulf 
came thereto ; and they were very near breaking his staff, if he had 
not given the more money, because he could not do his Rites so well 
as he should 3 .' 

It will be observed that in the first extract about Eadnoth it is said 

1 See ante, p. 138 2 A.-S. Chron E, sub anno 1046. Appendix A, § 63. 

3 A.-S. Chron. E, sub anno 1047, and F, sub anno 1049. Appendix A, § 64. 


that the good bishop of Oxfordshire died. It might almost seem that 
Oxfordshire was the recognized name for the diocese, and not 
Dorchester, though no signature of a bishop of Oxfordshire has been 

Curiously enough, William of Malmesbury omits all reference to Ulf, 
continuing the list with Wluui and then Remigrus. He could scarcely 
have considered Ulf and Wulfwi to be the same, since the entry in 
one of the Chronicles is so exceedingly distinct as to the two Bishops. 

* 1053. . . . And Leofwine [of Lichfield] and Wulfwi went over 
sea, and there caused themselves to be ordained bishops. Wulfwi 
succeeded to the bishoprick Ulf had had, he being living and driven 
away V 

Another Chronicle also mentions his death. 

* 1067 And on that day (December 6), Christ Church at 

Canterbury was burnt ; and Bishop Wulfwig died and is buried at his 
Episcopal see at Dorchester V 

The circumstances attending the expulsion of Ulf throw no light 
upon the diocese of Oxford, but they belong to the story of the 
reaction against the persistent course followed by Eadward in his 
appointment of Norman bishops to the English sees. Wulfwi was the 
last of the English bishops of Dorchester ; so that the notice of his 
Norman successor, Remigius, and the removal of the see to Lincoln 
belongs to the next chapter. 

Politically, the importance of Oxford seems to have been recognized 
by the circumstance of the great Gemot mentioned in the last chapter, 
in which, under Cnut, the English law was adopted : and now another 
great Gemot was held here in 1036 on the death of Cnut to choose his 
successor. No business of greater importance could well have been 
transacted than this in the then state of affairs. The supporters of the 
English policy and those of the Danish policy (for under those two heads 
probably most of the political differences might be grouped) had by 
Cnut's good management been kept at peace. There were troubles 
no doubt, but not such as to affect the unity of the nation. But now 
there was not only the absence of the ruler to keep the nation together, 
but the presence of rival claims which must be satisfied. The words 
of one of the Chronicles are as follows : — 

1 a.d. 1036. In this year died King Cnut at Shaftesbury. . . . And 
immediately after his decease, there was a great assembly of all the 
"Witan" at Oxford; and Earl Leofric and almost all the thanes 

1 A.-S. Chron. C, sub anno . 

2 A.-S. Chron. D, sub anno. Both passages are given under Appendix A, § 65. 


north of the Thames, and the "lithsmen" of London, chose Harold to 
the government of all England, him and his brother Harthacnut, who 
was in Denmark. And Earl Godwine and all the chief men of Wessex, 
opposed it as long as they could, but they could not prevail aught 
against it. And it was then resolved that iElfgyfu, Harthacnut's 
mother, should dwell at Winchester with the king her son's "house 
carls," and hold all Wessex under his authority. And Earl Godwine 
was their most devoted man V 

The writers who follow vary this somewhat, but throw no especial 
light upon it. Henry of Huntingdon interprets one part by paraphras- 
ing it, 'elected Harold, that he might keep the kingdom for his 
brother.' The probabilities are that there was a compromise ; but at 
this distance of time it is impossible to discover the exact nature, even 
supposing that those living then understood perfectly the conditions. 

The result, however, turned out according to the broad lines which 
seem to have been laid down, namely, that Harold Harefoot should 
reign for a time, and Harthacnut should succeed him on his death. 
Further, that meanwhile Harthacnut should rule Wessex as an under- 
king. The latter fearing, as well he might, treachery, appointed as his 
deputy, his mother Emma over the West Saxons, like as the Lady Ethel- 
flaed had been Lady over the Mercians ; but the work of ruling was en- 
trusted to Earl Godwine. In all probability Godwine's party were for 
a more sweeping policy, with a view of restoring the English house, 
instead of continuing the Danish house on the throne. The choice of 
Harold cannot be very well accounted for, except on the principle of 
compromise, since great doubts seem to be thrown by all writers as to 
his parentage ; and his action after his accession to the throne certainly 
would justify the opinion that he felt he was a pretender, and was not 
in the right. If we can accept the statements in the Chronicles (and 
it is difficult, considering the opportunities which the writers must have 
had of recording independent opinions, to believe that their agreement 
arises from other causes than the truth), he seems to have feared the 
return of Harthacnut, and to have vented his animosity against Queen 
Emma, his reputed father's queen j inviting, too, the sons of Ethelred 
and Emma, he caused JElfred to be blinded, and Edward only escaped 
a similar act of brutality by fleeing into Normandy. On the whole, 
then, Oxford cannot be said to be honoured by the decision of the 
Gemot which was held here in 1035, and it is no further honour perhaps 

1 This is taken from Chron. E. Chrons. C and D do not mention the Witena- 
gemot. Chron. F mentions the election of Harold, but omits to mention that the 
gemot was held at Oxford. Appendix A, § 66. 


that Oxford was the scene of Harold's death in 1040, which is thus 
recorded in one of the Chronicles : — 

' a.d. 1039. In this year King Harold died at Oxford on the xvith. 
of the Kal. of April [Mar. 17th], and he was buried at Westminster 1 .' 

Florence of Worcester, under 1040, writes, 'Harold, King of the 
English, died at London' 1 ' Henry of Huntingdon follows the Chronicle 
almost verbatim^ but he places the event under the year 1040. William 
of Malmesbury incidentally refers to Harold ' dying at Oxford in the 
month of April' at the expiration of three years after 1036. Simeon 
of Durham, and Roger de Hoveden, as usual, copy Florence of 
Worcester. Incidentally, in a judgment or writ to which at least he 
put his hand just before his death, we read of Harold lying grievously ill 
at Oxford. The document is not dated, and therefore does not in any 
way fix the exact year of his death. The question at issue seems 
to have been a dispute about some rents at Sandwich between the two 
rival houses situated close to each other at Canterbury, namely the 
Christ Church house, and the S. Augustine's house: and the plea 
seems to have been that property belonging to the latter had been 
alienated unjustly to the former by the king's officers. Whether the 
words are those dictated by the king or only those of his clerk, they 
were at least penned at Oxford. 

' Know then by this writing that Harold king &c. Then Archbishop 
Eadsige when he knew this, and all the society at Christ Church took 
counsel between them that iElfgar monk of Christ Church, should be 
sent to king Harold : and the king was then in Oxford very ill, so that 
he lay in despair of his life. There was [present] Lyfing Bishop of 
Defenascire [i. e. Crediton] with the king, and Thancred the monk 
with him. Then came the messenger from Christ Church to the 
Bishop, and he then forth to the king, and iElfgar the monk with him, 
and Oswerd of Hergerdesham 3 and Thancred, and they said to the 
king, &c V 

The plea, and the judgment on it, do not concern us, but these 
few lines seem to bring vividly before us the scene of Harold lying in 
his sick chamber within the Castle precincts at Oxford, with the 
bishop and others around him, and the intrusion of the two monks, 

1 Here again Chron. E is the authority, and Chrons. C, D, and F omit all refer- 
ence to Oxford. MS. F places the death of Harold in 1039, but Chrons. C and 
D both place it in 1040. Appendix A, § 67. 

2 Florence of Worcester in the same way makes the death of King Edmund to 
have taken place at London, as already noted. 

3 Probably Hariardesham of Domesday, now Harietsham, Kent. 

* The original document is preserved in the collection of original charters, 
Cottonian Library, Aug. II. Printed K. CD. No. 758, iv. p. 56. Appendix A, § 86. 


who had journeyed from Canterbury as a deputation, desiring to 
obtain his direct authority in their trouble ; and, further, the means 
they adopted of gaining access to him are told so naturally, in the 
few words quoted from the recital in the charter, that they convey a 
clearer idea than the ordinary narratives of historians. 

Harthacnut, when he succeeded, seems to have been intent on 
avenging the indignities which had been perpetrated towards his 
mother by his predecessor, for he had the body of the late king dug 
up at Westminster and cast into the marshland near, and so out of 
consecrated ground ; and further, in his brief career as king for about 
two years, he seems only to have succeeded in drawing down the 
wrath of the chroniclers in consequence of the extraordinary taxation 
which he sanctioned. In no way does his reign shed any lustre on 
the kingdom, nor does it bear upon the meeting of Oxford. 

On Harthacnut' s sudden death, at a marriage feast in June 1042, 
the English party seem to have had their way clear before them : 
and so the next year Eadward ' the Confessor/ was hallowed king. 

Elected king immediately on the death of Harthacnut, it is most 
probable that he was in Normandy at the time, and the preparations 
were such that he was not crowned till Easter in 1043, an ^ then at 
Winchester. No traces in any charter or in any of the historians 
occur of his visiting Oxford. Yet one might have expected it, for it 
is but a few miles across the meadows on the north of Oxford to the 
place where he was born. 

This fact we do not obtain from any chronicler, but from the chance 
mention of it in a charter respecting a grant of land to his newly- 
founded, or rather restored, abbey of Westminster. It runs as follows : — 

' Eadward, king, greets Wlsy 1 i Bishop, and Gyrth, Earl, and all my 
thanes in Oxnefordesyre kindly. And I would have you know that I 
have given to Christ and to Saint Peter, unto Westminster that 
"cotlif" in which I was born by name Githslepe and one hide at 
Mersce scot-free and gafol-free, with all the things therein that thereto 
belong in wood and in field in meadow and in waters, with church, 
and with church-jurisdiction as fully and as largely and as free as it 
stood to myself in my hands : so also as Elgiva Imma my mother at 
my first birthday gave it to me for a provision 2 .' 

1 Wlsy might be Wulfsige, Bishop of Lichfield (1039-1053) ; but more likely 
Wulfwig, Bishop of Dorchester (1053-67), since the next four charters (K. C. D. 
86,^-866) have respectively Wulfwi, Wlfsi Wlwi, and Wulfwi, all obviously referring 
to the same Bishop. Why the writ should be addressed to Gyrth, whose earldom 
appears to comprise Norfolk and Suffolk, presents a difficulty. 

2 Printed in Kemble's Codex Diplomaticus, No. 862, vol. iv. p. 215, from MS. 
Cott. Faust, a. in, fol. 103. The MS. consists chiefly of a Register of charters 
belonging to S. Peter's, Westminster. Appendix A, § 69. 


We do not know the exact year when King Eadward was born, and 
consequently have no means of even surmising the circumstance which 
led Queen Emma iElfgifu to be at Islip at any particular time. It 
may be that as the ' cotlif,' or little village, belonged to her, there was 
something of a palace in it which might at times have provided a 
residence for herself: traces of this were pointed to on the north side 
of the church before the late farm improvements, but with very little 
evidence of their being of an early age ; and even the font in which the 
king was baptized 1 has been described and figured. 

And just as we find no trace of Eadward having visited Oxford, so 
neither does Oxford seem to play any part in the political events of 
his long reign, till just within a few months of the end. At this time 
an important ' Gemot ' was held here ; but the bearing of the same 
upon the greatest of all events which was at hand, namely, the Norman 
Conquest, cannot be shown without a brief reference to some of the 
circumstances which preceded it. 

Eadward was Norman on his mother's side, and being educated in 
Normandy, all his sympathies were Norman and not English ; and the 
English party in choosing him as their king could have little foreseen 
what influence that choice would have in transferring the government 
of England to a foreign sovereign. This choice, in effect, helped only 
to a Danish rule being exchanged for a Norman rule. It need not 
necessarily have been so, for the primary causes of William's success 
were the political dissensions of the English leaders of the people : to 
the same causes, indeed, which had subjected England first to the 
ravages of the Danish hordes, and afterwards to the rule of a Danish 
king. By the death of Harthacnut there had seemed some hope of 
a united country, but that was not the result. The new divisions of the 
country which were gradually effected during Eadward's reign were 
the same in principle, though perhaps different in detail from what 
they had been before : England was still divided into districts, almost 
amounting to kingdoms, though they were known as earldoms. From 
Egbert's time the country had never been one kingdom, except in a 
very limited sense, and we now find in Eadward's reign not only the old 
state of things existing, but very much the geographical distribution of 
the old kingdoms of all recognized and restored. The kingdom of 

1 Kennett in his Parochial Antiquities, Oxford, 1818, i. p. 69, writes: 'Besides 
this charter, there is another standing memorial of the birth of King Edward at 
Islip, the relics of the font wherein he was baptized, lately removed from the ruins 
of a royal chapel in that town ; of which this account is given by an eye-witness 
of it.' This font, as the architectural details show, was the work of the fourteenth 




the Northumbrians was under one earl, East Anglia under another, 
Mercia under a third, and Wessex under a fourth; the last being 
Earl Godwin, the leader of the English party, and who with Bishop 
Lyfing may be said to have been chiefly instrumental in setting 
Eadward on the throne. 

At the same time, there seem to have been subdivisions of these 
earldoms, or, at least, there were several under-earls, though called 
by the name of earls, just as under-kings were of old often called 
kings. The territories belonging to these smaller earldoms are not 
easy to define, as the earls were not set over single shires like the 
ealdormen had been, but over groups of shires, which seem to have 
been frequently shifting ; and in attempting to assign to them their 
several shires, according to the addresses and signatures of the 
charters which are preserved, several anomalies present themselves. 
It is dangerous of course to depend too much upon such authority ; 
first, because some charters are of doubtful character, and copyists 
may have inserted the description according to the light of their know- 
ledge ; and secondly, there may have been special reasons in some 
cases for writs being addressed to a particular earl on account of his 
holding property in another earldom than his own. Still, making 
this allowance, the divisions and subdivisions were complicated. 

Moreover, in addition to the subdivisions on the one hand, there 
appeared to be, on the other, a tendency of the earldoms to fall into 
two groups, as the sequel shows, — the south and the north. The south 
under Earl Godwin, with English interests, the north under iElfgar, 
or his successors, with seemingly the desire for independence of 
English rule, and with a considerable remnant of Danish interests 1 . 

The part which Oxfordshire played in this it is difficult to determine. 
Naturally it would be Mercian, and would have passed to Earl iElfgar 
who succeeded his father, Earl Leofric, in the earldom in 1057; but if 
we accept Florence of Worcester's account, it was in 105 1, grouped with 
Gloucestershire and Somerset and Wiltshire in an earldom ruled over 
by Swegen, one of Godwine's sons 2 ; and there seems perhaps in this 
something of the nature of a survival of the separation of Oxfordshire 
from the kingdom of Mercia in 912, when Eadward the Elder took it 
from the rule of the Lady of the Mercians. 

1 The Danish interests seem to have been recognized, e.g. in the charter [K. C. D. 
804] of Ealdred, Bishop of Worcester, who calls to witness, together with the earls 
Leofric and Odda and several others, ' all the oldest thanes in Worcestershire, 
Danish and English.' 

2 Florence of Worcester, sub anno 1 051. Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 604. 


On the other hand, in the Domesday Survey, Oxford itself is re- 
turned as having been held by the Mercian earl iElfgar in the time 
of King Eadward, and it is reasonable therefore to suppose the shire 
also 1 . It seems clear, also, from a charter respecting a grant of land 
to S. Alban's Abbey, that before Leofric's death Oxfordshire was 
within his earldom ; the first signature being that of Ulf, Bishop [of 
Dorchester, elected 1050], the next, Earl Leofric, and the third, the 
Abbot of Abingdon. The last signatures are Godwine, the Reeve 
(praepositus) of the city of Oxford, and Wulfwine, the Reeve of the 
county of Oxford (that is, the Portreeve and the Sheriff at this time), 
and all the citizens of Oxford 2 . 

The Gemot at Oxford, however, is more nearly concerned with the 
earldom of Northumbria. On the death of Earl Siward in 1055, King 
Eadward bestowed the earldom on a younger son of Godwine, by 
name Tostig, towards whom he seems to have evinced great friend- 
ship ; and this close bonding of the great earldom of the West Saxons 
with that of the Northumbrians was a bold though perhaps hazardous, 
stroke of policy in the direction of uniting the whole of England, as it 
had not yet been united. Whether or not he was a fit man to wield 
so much power may be doubtful. Certainly, as events proved, his 
appointment was attended with most untoward circumstances. He 
seems, however, not to have been wanting in prowess. When 
Harold went on his expedition in May 1063 against Gruffydd, the 
Welsh king, Tostig seems to have rendered him valuable assistance, 
and it may be mentioned in passing, that one of the chroniclers intro- 
duces the name of Oxford incidentally in connection with the campaign. 

1 The signatures and addresses of the charters do not help us much. Writs re- 
specting Islip and Langtune, i. e. Launton (K. C. D. Nos. 862 and 865), are addressed 
to Wulwi, Bp. of Dorchester (1053-1067), to Earl Gyrth, and to all the king's thanes 
in Oxfordshire. But Gyrth was Earl of the East Anglian shires of Suffolk and Norfolk. 
On the one hand, though some writs relating to property in Suffolk and Norfolk are 
addressed to Bishop ^Egelmar of Elmham (1047-70), and Girth (e.g. K. C. D. Nos. 
873, 874, 875, 881), on the other hand most are addressed to Bishop ^Egelmar and 
Earl ^Elfgar of Mercia (e.g. K. C. D. 876, 877, 878, 879, 880, 882, 883, 884, 905). 
This is but one illustration of the difficulties referred to. 

2 From MS. Cott. Nero D. I. fol. 150 b. A volume containing documents re- 
lating to S. Alban's Abbey transcribed in the thirteenth century. Printed in Codex 
Diplomaticus, No. 950, vol. iv. p. 284, but much more accurately in Gesta Abbatum, 
S. Albani, Rolls Series, 1 863, vol. i. p. 39. The name of the place, given in the former 
as ' Cyrictuna,' is Cyric-tiwa (in Domesday Tewa, and also Teova), now Great Tew, 
in Oxfordshire. We find amongst the signatures ^gelric of ' Glimtune 5 ; Brihtwin 
of 1 Dsedintun,' Leofwine of ' Bartune,' confirming the fact that it was situated to 
the North of Oxford. It is granted by a certain widow Tova to Abbot Leofstan, 
and all the convent of S. Alban's. The date is restricted to 1050-5 2, the former the 
date when Swegen was inlawed, the latter the date when Ulf was outlawed. 

N 2 


The Chronicles refer to the campaign very briefly, while Florence of 
Worcester names Bristol as the place whence Harold sailed with his 
fleet ; but Geoffrey Gaimar, the French chronicler, who lived very near 
the time, and so had possibly authority for what he wrote, states : — 

' Then went there Tosti from the North, Harold from South, from 
Oxenford 1 . ' 

Harold may well have taken Oxford on his way to Bristol. It may 
imply more than this, that the campaign was arranged and settled in 
Oxford, and that at Oxford the northern and southern forces met 
before they started westward. 

Probably the fact of Tostig being the son of Godwine, so closely as- 
sociated with the West Saxon kingdom, was the main cause of his 
unpopularity with the Northumbrians, and certain it is that the people of 
his earldom revolted from him, instigated no doubt by leaders who had 
nothing to lose, but everything to gain by the revolt. It may well 
therefore have been more his misfortune than his fault, and the charges 
against him may have been either fabrications or exaggerations. 
Still he was not able to quell the revolt, and if it is true that he was 
hunting with the king in Wiltshire at the time, it looks rather as if he 
was negligent of the welfare of his earldom ; things too, no doubt, 
were done during his absence in his name, by his subordinates, which 
he would not have done himself. Moreover there is little doubt but that 
a neighbouring power had been busy in fomenting if not originating 
the discord, and this is shown by the fact that the rebels held a 
gemot at York, on October 3rd (according to Florence of Worcester), 
that they deposed earl Tostig and declared him an outlaw, and at the 
same time elected as their earl Morkere, the son of ^Elfgar, earl of 
Mercia. iElfgar, from what is known of circumstances previously, was 
not to be depended on ; he evidently consulted his own interests 
before his country's ; he had been proved to be to all intents and 
purposes a traitor, and may therefore before his death, which happened 
in 1062, have set going the rise of the rebellion, though he left it to his 
sons to complete the work. The outlawry of one earl and the election 
of another, without the king's consent, was in itself nothing less than 
rebellion, and Morkere must well have known it. The object he and 
his brother Eadwine had in view was evidently to separate the king- 
dom into two parts, with Mercia and Northumbria as one kingdom, 
and Wessex and whatever counties might be disposed to join as another. 
The political action on the part of the men interested was accompanied, 
as the tendency is of all such movements, by the rioting of a mob and 

1 1 Done i alat Tosti del north, Harold del suth de Oxenford.' V Estorie des 
Engles, line 5075. Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 825. 


acts of murder, violence, and plunder. Not only they immediately 
slew all Tostig's faithful servants they could find, and broke open the 
earl's treasury, but proceeded to march southwards, and this, if we 
accept the statements of the Chronicles, under the open leadership of 
Morkere himself ; and this brings the story to the passage in the 
Chronicle which concerns Oxford : — 

1 a.d. 1065. And then, very shortly after, there was a great " gemot " 
at Northampton ; and so at Oxford, on the day of S. Simon and S. 
Jude (Oct. 28th). And Earl Harold was there, and would work their 
reconciliation if he could, but he could not 1 , for all his earldom 
unanimously renounced and outlawed him [Tostig] and all who raised 
up lawlessness with him ; because he first robbed God and bereaved 
all those of life and of land over whom he had power. And they then 
took to them Morkere for earl, and Tostig went over sea.' 

In two other Chronicles, viz. D and E, it is recorded that there was 
at this time a Gemot at Northampton. The passage runs thus : — 

' Then came Earl Harold to meet them, and they laid an errand on 
him to King Eadward, and also sent messengers with him, and prayed 
that they might have Morkere for their Earl. And the king granted 
it, and sent Harold again to them at Northampton on the Eve of 
S. Simon and S. Jude's mass ; and he made known the same to them, 
and gave his hand thereto ; and he there renewed Cnut's law 1 .' 

One version does not discredit the other, for a Gemot may have 
been held at Oxford as well as at Northampton, and Harold may 
have been at both ; for it will be observed that the one meeting was 
held the day after the other, and it was quite possible for Harold, even 
with an absolute adherence to dates, to have gone direct from North- 
ampton to Oxford, in the twenty-four hours, though it would have 
involved a ride of nearly sixty miles. In the then state of the king- 
dom, and the important issues at stake, such rapidity was necessary. 
Florence of Worcester, copied more or less verbally by other writers, 
mentions the meeting at Oxford as well as that at Northampton: — 

' Afterwards nearly all those of his followers [comitatus] assembled 
together at Northampton and met Harold Earl of the West Saxons, 
and the others whom the King, at Tosti's request, had sent to them in 
order to restore peace. Where first of all, and afterwards at Oxford, 
on the feast of the apostles SS. Simon and Jude, they all unanimously 
opposed their assent, when Harold and several of the others tried to 
reconcile Tosti to them 2 .' 

1 The first is from A.-S. Chron. C. Chron. D and E omit the mention of the 
Gemot at Oxford, and Chron. F has ceased with the year 1058 ; Chron. D, however, 
mentions fully, and Chron. E very briefly, the circumstance of Harold being sent to 
Northampton. Appendix A, §§ 70-71. • • 

2 Flor. of Wore, sub anno 1065. Mm. Hist. Brit. p. 612. Appendix A, § 72. 


Henry of Huntingdon has evidently used Chronicles D and E, 
and only mentions the meeting at Northampton ; while William of 
Malmesbury confines his remarks to an account of the revolt. 

The writer of the Vita JEduuardi Regis, a work which must have 
been composed between 1066 and 1074, after speaking of the 
slaughter at York and Lincoln, states that a vast number of rebels 
massed together continued their course — ' like a whirlwind or storm ' 
— past the middle of England till they reached Axoneuorde 1 . There is 
no doubt that Oxford is meant, although the spelling is singular. 

This implies that the rebellious mob were accompanying the leaders. 
Harold might therefore have made a stand, and attempted to treat at 
Northampton, but might have been obliged, in consequence of the 
overwhelming mass of insurgents, to fall back upon Oxford, and continue 
the Gemot there, since a Gemot held under the former circumstances 
could not have been attended with any satisfactory results. 

The importance of what was done at this Gemot at Oxford cannot 
be over-estimated. The king, it would appear, was favourable to making 
at least an attempt to crush the rebellion, which was instigated, there 
could be but little doubt, by the house of ^Elfgar, as they would be the 
only gainers ; but earl Harold was for listening to the demands of the 
leaders for the sake of peace. 

There is no reason to give credence to the speeches which different 
historians put into the mouths of the respective parties ; we have before 
us certain elements, and we have also before us the results of their 
combination, and we are able to take perhaps a more unbiassed view 
than those who lived at the time, and who were in one way or another 
affected by the revolt. It is clear that Harold anticipated that by 
sacrificing his brother to the insurgents, he would win the allegiance 
of the Northumbrians on the one hand, and yet, on the other, not lose 
the friendship of his brother so completely that any harm would come 
of it. He made a great mistake in both his anticipations. He gained 
only the contempt of the lawless bands who had come down from the 
north ravaging the country wherever they went, by condoning their 
offences. At the same time he gained only the enmity of the steadier 
men, whose lands had been then ravaged by those bands. The 
Chronicle in simple terms speaks of the great harm they did : — 

' And the Rythrenan did great harm about Northampton while he 
[Harold] went on their errand, inasmuch as they slew men and burned 
houses, and corn, and took all the cattle which they could come at, 

1 From the Harleian MS. (No. 526), printed in Lives of Edward the Confessor, 
Rolls Series, p. 422, Vita Edwardi, line 1 157. The MS. is of the twelfth century. 


that was many thousand : and many hundred men they took and led 
north with them ; so that the shire and the other shires that were nigh 
them were for many winters the worse V 

Morkere, who led the revolt, would have been the chief gainer by the 
decision of the Gemot ; but there is not the remotest chance of any 
spark of gratitude having been aroused in his heart by Harold's exhi- 
bition of weakness. Lastly, in his treatment of his brother, Harold made 
not only an enemy, but one whose enmity, as it turned out, was the most 
formidable of all with which he had to contend, because it was exhibited 
at the most inopportune moment which could possibly have occurred. 

Before turning the leaf which brings us to the end of the story, it 
may be worth while to notice that, according to Chronicle D, an im- 
portant clause in the submission agreed to by Harold acting with the 
king's authority, but as already said on his own judgment and against 
that of the king, was 1 that Cnut's law was renewed.' This is some- 
what striking from the fact that it was at Oxford the Gemot of 10 18 
was held in which occurs the passage 'then the Danes and Angles were 
unanimous for Eadgar's law 2 .' It is impossible that the phrase means 
only that the kingdom should be under one law, that is, the laws of 
the land should be obeyed : for when the two passages are put into 
juxtaposition, there is evidently something more than this implied. 
It is believed that these are the only two instances which occur in the 
Chronicles of the agreement as to the law to be observed at any 
Gemot, and therefore their interpretation must be based upon the 
several circumstances attending the two occasions on which the words 
were used. The mention in both instances of the special law implies 
a priori that at least there was another code in existence, and there 
cannot be much doubt that there were two, namely the Danish code 
which had been tacitly allowed to make its way in the land occupied 
by the Danes ; and the English code, which was understood by the 
expression of Eadgar's law. There had been, roughly speaking, a 
northern kingdom, and a southern kingdom, and a northern law, and 
a southern law. In 10 18 Oxford was the scene of an agreement 
made by a Witan, presided over by a truly Danish king, that the 
English law should be the law of England. In 1065 is held another 
Gemot in the same place, assembled by the English king's orders, and 
nominally presided over by his representative, acquiescing in the 

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicles D, E, sub anno 1065, and continuation of passage 
quoted from D, E, ante, p. 181. In E the unknown word ' Rythrenan' appears as 
' Northernan men ' : but it is open to question whether it is not a conjectural 
emendation of the compiler of Chron. E, and that the meaning of the original 
word had been lost. Appendix A, § 73. 2 See ante, p. 161. 


decision that the Danish code should be the code of England. There 
is strong probability therefore in this distinction recorded by the 
Chronicles being of set purpose, when we remember that Harold was 
dealing with a large and powerful body, representing especially the 
land which was so long under the Dane law, and which was now again 
separating itself, in fact, though acknowledging a nominal obedience to 
the government of the rest of England. If this is the case it is very 
humiliating, and the submission of 1065 must be put in the same 
category as that of 10 1 3, the result of Ethelred's incompetence, of which 
William of Malmesbury, paraphrasing the Chronicle, writes : ' Soon 
coming to the southern districts, Sweyn obliged the men of Oxford 
and Winchester to obey his laws 1 .' If this was but one of the results 
it is not a Gemot of which Oxford can be proud. But the worst was 
to come. 

King Eadward died on January 5, 1066, and Harold had been duly 
elected king. The Norman writers, of course, find numerous flaws in 
the election ; but the object is so palpably by way of apology for 
William's seizure of the English crown that they are not deserving of 
serious attention. He was elected no doubt by the Witan in London, 
as representative probably as circumstances would admit. 

By May of the same year Tostig, the banished earl, had brought 
together, a fleet with a view of regaining that of which he naturally 
thought himself wrongly deprived, and was attacking the southern shores 
of England. At the same time observing the division in the kingdom 
which Eadwine and Morkere had effected, a Norwegian king, Harold 
Hardrada, following in the wake of the Danish kings and jarls of old, 
came to see what he could gain by an incursion upon the unfortunate 
country. The banished earl threw his lot in with the Norwegian king, and 
it is suggested that he even prompted him to the act ; certain it is that 
by September, 1066, the two were together in command of a large 
army, and marching to York. How far Eadwine and Morkere really 
attempted to defend their own kingdom against the foreign enemy and 
the former earl, cannot be well ascertained ; all that is clear is that 
they were unsuccessful and appealed to the English king for help. 
Harold generously, without thinking of his own danger, though he 
might well have known what was in preparation on the coast of 
Normandy, and though in ill health, obeyed the summons, and hastened 
so rapidly to the scene of action, that before September closed he was 
at Stamford Bridge, and won back, as it appears in the sequel, rather 
for Eadwine and Morkere than for England, the kingdoms of Northum- 
1 See ante, p. 153. 


bria and Mercia, which were at the moment at the mercy of Harold 
Hardrada and Tostig. 

Scarcely had the victory been won, when the news of William's 
landing on the coast of Sussex arrived. King Harold ought, mean- 
while, to have been gathering his army in his own kingdom of Wessex ; 
and if this had been the case William would, af his landing, have had 
far different circumstances to contend with, and the unequal battle 
near Hastings (to the place of which Orderic Vital alone of all 
historians has given the name of Senlac 1 ) would probably never 
have been fought. Of course, as the Norman influence had been 
allowed to grow to a great extent during King Eadward's reign, it is 
possible that eventually England might have been subjected to the 
Norman rule ; but the decisive victory gained by the Normans on 
October 14th, 1066, which led to the coronation of Duke William 
at Westminster on Christmas Day of the same year, was due to the 
journey to York to resist Tostig. Eadwine and Morkere of course kept 
their own men back ; they were glad enough to cry to Harold for aid 
in their need, but with gratitude as absent as when Harold con- 
firmed them in their aggression upon the kingdom to the detriment 
of his own brother's welfare. These two earls had taken the best of 
West Saxon blood to help them in Mercia, but evidently declined 
to send a single man to help Harold in Wessex. 

It was to be expected. The events, as already said, without the aid 
of historians to narrate imaginary conversations and suggest possible 
motives, tell their own tale. The decision of the Gemot at Oxford 
was at the bottom of the whole matter. At that Gemot, contrary to 
the king's wish, Harold listened to the pleas of rebels, and trusting 
Eadwine and Morkere, threw over Tostig ; all the rest followed in due 
course. It was in 1009, at Oxford, that the betrayal of the northern 
rulers, Sigeferth and Morkere, by the old traitor, Eadric, took place. 
In 1065 it was no less a betrayal of the patriot Harold, by the no less 
traitors, in fact, Eadwine and another Morkere. The complement of 
the one was the subjection of England to Cnut, the Danish king. 
The direct result of the other was the leaving England open to the easy 
victory of William, the Norman duke, when he landed in Sussex. 

1 There is no mention of this name in the charters concerning the foundation of 
Battle Abbey on the spot. 


Oxford during the Twenty Years after th3 
Norman Conquest. 

After the great battle, Duke William's march to London was com- 
paratively easy. Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and Hampshire had been too 
severely taxed in supplying men to meet the Conqueror on his landing t 
to offer any serious resistance. In fact from these counties nearly the 
whole of the forces employed by Harold must have been procured, for 
from the north bank of the Thames it would appear that he had 
obtained hardly any assistance whatever. We know little of what 
occurred after the battle, for the few lines which comprise all the record 
left by the two or three historians on which we have to rely, are very 
imperfect, if not contradictory. But as the neighbourhood of Oxford 
is by some made the scene of an important event in the Conqueror's 
march before he was crowned king, and as Oxford itself is made by 
nearly all historians to have been besieged either immediately before, 
or soon after his coronation, it is necessary to examine somewhat 
closely the evidence on which such statements are based. 

Two only of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles remain 1 which record the 
details of the conquest. Of these Chronicle D is the fullest, but in 
it the whole story of the conquest is summed up in the few lines 
following : — 

' 1066 . . . And Count William went afterwards again to Hastings, and 
there awaited whether the nation would submit to him ; but when he 
perceived that they would not come to him he went up with all his army 
which was left to him, and what had afterwards come over sea to him, 
and harried all that part which he passed over until he came to Beorh- 
hamstede. And there came to meet him Archbishop Ealdred, and 
Eadgar child, and Earl Eadwine, and Earl Morkere, and all the best 
men of London, and these from necessity submitted when the greatest 
harm had been done ; and they gave hostages, and swore oaths to him ; 

1 The original Winchester copy A, or rather its continuation, has become so 
meagre in its notes, with sometimes not a dozen lines to twenty years, that it is 
quite useless. The Canterbury copy B ceased with the year 975. The Chronicle 
C, supposed to have been compiled at Abingdon, ceased with the battle at Stamford 
Bridge in 1066; while Chronicle F ceased with 1056. There remains therefore 
only Chronicle D, supposed to have been compiled at Worcester, and Chronicle 
E, supposed to have been compiled at Peterborough, and which is preserved in the 
Bodleian Library. 


and he promised them that he would be a kind lord to them ; and yet 
during this, they harried all that they passed over. Then on Midwinter's 
day [December 25], Archbishop Ealdred hallowed him king at West- 
minster ; and he pledged him on Christ's book, and also swore, before 
he would set the crown on his head, that he would govern this nation 
as well as any king before him had best done, ,,if they would be faith- 
ful to him. Nevertheless he laid a very heavy contribution on the 
people, and then, in Lent, went over sea to Normandy, and took with 
him Archbishop Stigand, and JEgelnoth, abbot of Glastonbury, and 
Eadgar child, and Earl Eadwine, and Earl Morkere, and Earl Waltheof, 
and many other good men of England V 

In Chronicle E we find a still shorter summary, as follows : — 

1 And the while Count William landed at Hastings on S. Michael's 
mass-day ; and Harold came from the north and fought against him 
before his army had all come, and there he fell, and his two brothers, 
Gyrth and Leofwine ; and William subdued the land, and came to 
Westminster, and Archbishop Ealdred hallowed him king ; and men 
paid him tribute and gave him hostages, and afterwards bought their 

Florence of Worcester, writing before 11 18, follows Chronicle D, 
though in other words, and apparently without other material: — 

' Meanwhile Duke William ravaged Sussex, Kent, Southamptonshire, 
Surrey, Middlesex, and Hertford, and ceased not to burn towns and 
kill men, till he came to the vill which is called Beorcham, where 
Archbishop Aldred, Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester, Walter, Bishop of 
Hereford, Eadgar the Atheling, Earls Eadwin and Morcar, and several 
nobles from London, with many others came to him, and gave hostages, 
and made submission to him, and swore fidelity. And with these he 
made a treaty ; nevertheless he allowed his army to burn towns and 
to plunder. . . . And on Christmas Day he was consecrated with great 
honour by Aldred, Archbishop of York, at Westminster V 

Simeon of Durham (or at least the writer of the Chronicle bearing 
his name, circa 1130), follows the above verbatim 4 , as also Roger of 
Hoveden writing circa 11 75. William of Malmesbury, writing about 
1 1 20, seems not to have come across a Chronicle of the D type, with any 
mention of Beorhhamstede, and it is probable that he has only extended 
Chronicle E, adding his own inferences. 

' By degrees William marched on with his army (as became a con- 
queror) not in a hostile but in a royal manner, and went to London, 

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle D, sub anno. Appendix A, § 74. 

2 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle E, sub anno. Appendix A, § 75. 

3 Florence of Worcester, Chronicon. Printed in Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 615. Ap- 
pendix A, § 76. 

4 Simeon of Durham, De Gestis Regum Anglorutn. Printed in Twisden's 
Striptbres Decern, col. 195. Roger of Hoveden. Rolls Series, 1S68, vol. i. p. 117, 


the chief city of the kingdom ; and immediately all the citizens poured 
forth to meet him on the way with welcome ; a crowd rushed forth 
from all the gates to greet him, the nobles at their head, especially 
Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Aldred of York ; for a few I 
days before Edwin and Morcard, the brothers who had so much ex- f 
pectation, when they heard in London of Harold's death, had entreated lj 
the citizens to raise one or other of them on the throne, and when I 
they had found their endeavours vain they had departed to North- 
umbria, imagining according to their own ideas that William would I 
never come thither. The other nobles would have chosen Edgar 
had they had the Bishops amongst their supporters. . . . Then he 
(William) having been undoubtedly proclaimed king, was crowned on 
Christmas Day by Archbishop Aldred r . ; 

Henry of Huntingdon, writing in 1135, compresses the whole into |! 
a couple of lines. j | 

' William having gained so great a victory was received by the people 
of London peaceably, and was crowned at Westminster by Aldred, J j 
Archbishop of York V 

William of Poitiers, however, writing perhaps soon after the event | 
itself, seems to have heard a different story altogether. He knows lj 
nothing of Beorhhamstede or Beorcham, but he takes William across J ; 
the Thames to a certain ' Guarengeford/ which has been supposed W 
(and probably rightly) to be meant for Wallingford. After mentioning 
the capture of Dover and the submission of the men of Canterbury, he 
refers to Archbishop Stigand and other magnates of the kingdom dis- 
cussing at London who should succeed Harold, ' while he who was to 
be their actual king was hastening on his way.' He then writes : — 

1 The five hundred of the Norman cavalry which had been sent for- 
ward by William, put to flight the company of soldiers which had 
sallied forth against him, and drove them back within the walls of the 
city. In addition to considerable slaughter, they burnt whatever 
buildings they found on this side of the river. . . . The Duke then 
marching forward in whatever direction he pleased, and crossing the 
river Thames, both by the ford and by the bridge, reached the town 
of Guarengefort. Stigand, the Metropolitan Archbishop, coming 
to this very place, delivered himself into his hands Thence pro- 

1 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Rcgum, lib. iii. § 247. Engl. Hist. Soc. ed. 
1840, vol. ii. p. 421. Appendix A, § 77. 

2 Henry of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum. Rolls Series, 1879, p. 204. 
Appendix A, § 78. The very peaceful entry into London, and the welcome given 
by the citizens, as recorded or imagined by William of Malmesbury and Henry of 
Huntingdon, seems to be the view popularly followed by later chroniclers : e. g. 
Wyke's Chronicle (Annates Monastici, Rolls Series, iv. p. 7) has ' assecuto tarn 
felici triumpho, dux cu?n suis pompatice procedens, primo civitatem Wyntoniae, 
deinde civitatem Londoniae brevissimo labore, nullo sibi xesistente, pessundedit.' 


ceeding forward, immediately that London was in sight, there came 
out to meet him the chief persons of the city, and they delivered up 
themselves and all the city to be obedient to him, just as the people of 
Canterbury had already done V 

It is later on, and after William's coronation, that he makes Eadwine 
and Morkere submit ; thus : — 

f Having departed out of London he spent some days in a neighbour- 
ing place, Bercingis. . . . There came to offer obedience to him there 
Edwine and Morcard ; the chief of almost all the English in rank and 
power, the renowned sons of that Algard ; and they seek his pardon V 

It will be observed that the more complete continuation of the Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicle brings William at once from Sussex to Beorham- 
stede. There a treaty is made and he proceeds to Westminster to be 
crowned. The less complete, takes him from Sussex to Westminster 
without narrating any intervening circumstance except what is con- 
tained under the words ' subdued the land V Florence of Worcester, 
enlarging upon the first of the two, incorporates his inferences 
into the history. He infers that William would have passed through 
part of Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Middlesex and Hertford- 
shire, and therefore he adds that he ravaged those counties. By his 
introducing Hertfordshire, he may perhaps be said to imply that he 
understood the ' Beorhamstede ' of the Chronicle to mean Berkham- 
stead, though he writes the name Beorcham. All this, however, is 
ignored by William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon, who 
make Duke William enter London at once, and that peacefully; while 
it may be said to be contradicted by William of Poitiers. None of the 
three seem to have heard of Berkhamstead, but the last has either 
heard or has invented the story that Duke William attempted to enter 

1 William of Poitiers, Gesta Guillelmi Ducis. Printed in Duchesne's Historia 
Normannorum Scriptores, Paris, 1619, p. 205. We are dependent wholly upon 
the printed copy. There was only one MS., but as to whether it was the writer's 
autograph or an imperfect transcript there is difference of opinion. Originally in 
the Cottonian Library, it was lent to Duchesne to print from. It appears he never 
returned it, and, if in existence at all, it is probably in some foreign library. It 
seems William of Poitiers was born at Preaux 1020 ; he became Chaplain to King 
William, and finally Archdeacon of Lisieux. Appendix A, § 79. William of 
Jumieges (who is said to have died 1090, though his history is continued to 1 1 37) 
has a passage similar in some respects, and probably based upon it, if both are not 

| based on some common original, and the divergences due to the inventive powers of 
the two historians. Appendix A, § 80. 

2 William of Poitiers, Ibid. p. 208. Appendix A, § 81. At the same place 
and apparently at the same time he recounts that many other nobles made peace. 

3 And yet this being the Chronicle supposed to have been compiled at Peter- 
borough, it was to have been expected that if he went to Berkhamstead, the cir- 
cumstance would have found some record in it. 


London, that the Londoners met him, and that he drove them back ; I 
and that he afterwards crossed the Thames partly by bridge and partly 
by ford to a place on the other side, to which the chronicler has given 
the name of Garengford. After the coronation he makes the king go to 
Barking 1 , which is unknown to all the others, and which has a dan- I 
gerous likeness to Berkhamstead, or at least to ' Beorcham/ 

The variations, however, which make the stories still more inconsistent j 
are the names of the chief Englishmen who met Duke William at the I 
respective places. In the continuation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle j 
we read of the Archbishop of York, Eadgar iEtheling (the chosen king), 
Earls Eadwine and Morkere, and all the best men of London, meeting 
William. Florence of Worcester recites these names and adds (either 
because he thought they ought to be there, or else because his copy of 
the Chronicle contained the names), Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester, I 
and Walter, Bishop of Hereford, being Bishops from his own part of 
the country. He alters ' all the best men of London ' into ' several j 
nobles from London/ William of Malmesbury makes, besides the 
Archbishop of York, also the Archbishop of Canterbury come out and 
meet him ; while as to Eadwine and Morkere, he says that they jJ 
had previously departed for Northumbria. William of Poitiers makes 
no Archbishop of York meet him; but when he had gained the 
Mercian side of the Thames, he makes only Stigand, Archbishop of 
Canterbury come to the place of meeting: he makes the chief persons 
come out to welcome William when he is close to London ; while 
some time after the coronation he makes Eadwin and Morkere submit 
at Barking. 

It is useless to search for facts amongst later writers. Orderic Vital, 
who was writing this part of his history about the year 11 24-1 126, 
does not help us. He quotes by name Florence of Worcester 2 , but for 
the march of Duke William after the battle, he follows only William of 
Poitiers, whom he evidently looks upon as the chief authority 8 . He 


1 The reference to Barking would have had a greater appearance of probability had 
it been named in connection with William's fleet, which could scarcely have remained 
all this while at Pevensey. One would have expected it would have come up the 
Thames before his coronation rather than after ; since a fleet on the river would 
have been of great assistance towards his taking London. After his coronation, 
however, he might have visited Barking, if his fleet had been harboured in the 

' creek ' near this place. \ 

2 He calls him John of Worcester (bk. iii. cap. 21). And this arises probably 
from the fact that one of the continuators of Florence's work was named John. 
The MS. in C.C.C. Library, Oxford, has the name John as one of the writers, and 
as it was written at Worcester, it is probably the copy Orderic Vital saw. 

3 Orderic Vital, bk. iii. cap. 21 (15), for the meeting at Wallingford; bk. iv, 


also refers to the poem by Guy of Amiens, which he had seen \ On 
the whole, however, for the events of the close of 1066, he seems to 
have had no other material than what we possess ourselves. 

This material, as has been seen, is far from satisfactory, and though 
by leaving out here and there the discrepancies, the residue may be 
worked up into a consecutive and consistent series of events, such a 
process amounts to making history, not writing it. Amidst a mass of 
contradictory evidence it is impossible to arrive at any sure con- 
clusion. We have no means of cross-examining the witnesses, and 
if we had, we should probably be surprised to find upon what slight 
evidence they based their assertions. William of Poitiers, where he can 
be tested, seems to possess little idea of strict chronological sequence 
of events. That the Conqueror should, after the battle, march for 
London, is but natural, but whether he was welcomed or not is a 
question which seems to be made a matter of political opinion rather 
than a matter of fact. William of Poitiers implies that he was met, at 
first, with hostility, and that this obliged him to go up the Thames 
to a ford 2 , in order to cross over, and that Stigand met him there. It 
must be remembered that it is on this fact, and this alone, that all 
the evidence for William's march to Wallingford is based. It is, 
however, highly improbable that Stigand should journey all the way 
to Wallingford to meet the Conqueror; while it is certain that the 
place being on the Wessex side, William could not have crossed over 
to the place of meeting. Yet the circumstance of the meeting is less 
likely to be a fabrication than that the name of the place where they 
met is an error. 

It is, however, comparatively easy to piece together such details as 
will fit out of the various stories; and more easy still to discover 
reasons for the results which such mosaic work produces. It is easy, 
for instance, to make Wallingford, Berkhamstead, Westminster, and 
Barking the scenes of successive stages in the acknowledgment of 
William as King of England : at the first the Archbishop of Canter- 
cap. 1, for the meeting at Barking. Duchesne's Historia Normannorum Scriptores, 
p. 506. 

1 It has not been thought necessary to quote the poem attributed to Guy of Amiens, 
De Bello Hastingensi Carmen. Though he was attached to the court, as Orderic 
Vital mentions, bk. iv. cap. 5 (4), he does not in his poem, as regards the events 
treated of, throw any new light upon them. It will be found printed, Mon. Hist. 
Brit. p. 856. 

2 It is quite possible that in writing of the Conqueror fording the Thames, 
William of Poitiers added the only name of a ford with which he was acquainted. 
It may be remembered that it was Wallingford which King Alfred introduced 
into his edition of Orosius when he referred to Julius Caesar crossing the Thames, 
simply because this ford was known to him (see ante, p. 72, note 1). 


bury ; at the second the Archbishop of York and certain nobles ; at 
the coronation, the people of London ; and lastly at Barking, the 
Northern Earls, Eadwine and Morkere.* 

It is also easy to imagine that William, anticipating opposition from 
Eadwine and Morkere, should, without waiting to subdue London, have 
marched into Mercian territory to meet them before they could gather 
their forces together, and from considerations of a military nature he 
might be thought not to have crossed the Thames until he reached 
Wallingford; here he would find the Icknield way, which, running 
beneath the Western slopes of the Chiltern Hills, owed its creation to 
the Britons, but had been trodden by Roman, Saxon, and Danish in- 
vaders alike. Instead, however, of continuing along this ancient track 
till he reached Dunstable, where it joined the Waetling Street, by which 
he would have a direct road into London, he might have turned 
off by Tring, and passing through the opening which occurs here in 
the line of the Chiltern Hills, and following the course now followed 
both by a canal and railway, as well as by an important road, he 
might have passed Berkhamstead on his way 1 ; here, on account of the 
importance of the situation, a mediaeval castle was afterwards erected, 
here he might have halted, and here ambassadors might have been sent 
to meet him. Still so much of this rests on supposition, or at most on 
the chance mention of the two names, that it cannot be reasonably 
regarded as real history. The method by which the results are 
obtained bears too near a resemblance to that by which some of the 
myths referred to in the second chapter of this treatise have obtained 
a definite shape, so as to be looked upon as facts, or by which the 

1 The name of Beorh-hamstede, it will be remembered, occurs but in a single MS., 
and therefore we have no corroborative evidence that it is rightly given or correctly 
written. The Chronicle too which contains it is that which is supposed to 
have been compiled at Worcester ; that which was compiled at Peterborough 
knows nothing of it. It may perhaps be only a coincidence, but there is a story 
told in one of the St. Alban's Chronicles, viz. that of Thomas Walsingham (Gesta 
Abbatum, Rolls Series, vol. i. p. 47), in which King William and the Archbishop 
of Canterbury on a certain occasion, are present at Berkhamstead, and the King 
'pro bono pacis] swears upon the relics of St. Alban to obey the laws which King 
Eadward had appointed. But then Lanfranc is given as the name of the Archbishop, 
and he did not become so till 1070: still the consideration suggests itself, whether 
the compiler of Chronicle D, having a note of this, may not have put Berkhamstead 
as the place of meeting in 1066. On the other hand, there may have been 
another name in some Chronicle for Florence of Worcester to have copied it Beor- 
cham ; at least it does not look as if he used the Worcester Chronicle D, which we 
now possess. Possibly the compiler of the Chronicle meant it for Berkhamstead 
in Hertfordshire, though that is spelt Bercha'sted and Bercheh'asted in the two or 
three entries in the Domesday Survey. The Berkamystede and Berhamstede of the 
Charters (K. CD. 39, 1005) are Berstead, near Maidstone in Kent, while Beorgan- 
stede (K. CD. 18, 663) can only be Bersted, near Chichester in Sussex. 


legends described in the fifth chapter have come to be accepted as 
historical narratives. The whole evidence which a witness brings for- 
ward must be weighed, not that part only which can be reconciled 
with that of other witnesses ; in this respect it is considered that the 
evidence for the march round by Wallingford and Berkhamstead fails, 
and therefore that there are not sufficient grounds for accepting the 
theory that Duke William, previous to his coronation, marched 
through the Oxford district; and consequently there is no reason to 
suppose that at this time Oxford was besieged by him, or in any 
special manner surrendered to him \ 

In considering the next occasion suggested for the siege of Oxford, 
and the evidence which we have of the same, there is one important 
fact to be remembered, on which all historians agree, and which, in 
a way is connected with Oxford, namely, that Eadwine and Morkere 
yielded without striking a blow. Harold, at the Gemot of Oxford in 
1065, had surrendered to these two earls the whole of the north and 
centre of England ; he had supported them in the condemnation of 
his own brother as an outlaw, who as Earl of Northumbria would 
have prevented their supremacy over the north ; he had trusted them 
then as patriots ; afterwards he had helped them in their distress when 
Tostig and the Norwegian invader had appeared within the estuaries 
and rivers of Mercia and Northumbria ; and now these showed them- 
selves once again traitors. This is clear from the results, and results 
are surer guides than the imaginary motives suggested by historians. 
However well intentioned Harold may have been, however much he 
may have been led by popular clamour, or instigated by those who were 
to gain by it, the mistake was not the less fatal. At the first, as already 
pointed out, it much accelerated William's progress on his landing, if 
indeed it may not be said to have been the cause of his being able to effect 
j a landing at all ; and now, later on, the two earls seem to have looked on 
either as cowards or as traitors, while Duke William was on his way to 
be crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey. If he marched 
thither direct from Sussex it was bad enough ; if there is truth in 
the Berkhampstead story it was worse. One Chronicler 2 represents 
their fleeing to the north with the hopes of being able to save a part of 

1 Prof. Freeman writes, Norman Conquest, vol. iv. (1871) p. 778 : 'The date 
» of the submission of Oxford to William is very doubtful. One would have been 
inclined to place it in 1066, when William was so near as Wallingford, and the 
j influence of Wigod and his position as sheriff of the shire would also make an early 
j date likely.' 

I 2 William of Malmesbury. See ante, p. 188. 



their more northern shires from Duke William's invasion, recking little 
what became of the rest of their country. This is, however, hardly 
consistent with what we next hear of them, for their names appear 
amidst the court retinue visiting Normandy, mixing with the nobles, and 
in all probability receiving honours and welcome from the Conqueror's 
countrymen ; although they may have been prisoners in the eyes of the 
shrewd King William, their choice must have had something to do with 
their accompanying his train in the manner they did. The circum- 
stance of their submission without striking a blow, and their acceptance 
of the honours and hospitality offered them, are quite consistent with one 
another, and afford still further evidences, if such were at all needed, 
that the policy of entrusting the whole of the northern and middle 
portion of the kingdom to the sons of iElfgar, which was adopted at 
the Oxford Gemot of 1065, was the one great mistake which, more than 
any other, led to the country being subjected to the Norman rule. 

Taking the above circumstance into account — namely, that the Earl 
of Mercia yielded himself to William in such a way as to suggest that 
he hoped to be allowed to retain his honours and estate — there would be 
no reason whatever for a siege of Oxford to take place at all. In fact, so 
far as any argument may be adduced from the silence of the Chronicles, 
it would appear that this part of the kingdom was absolutely paralysed. 
After William was crowned, and when the work began of subduing 
those parts of the country which rose in rebellion, we have no record 
whatever that Oxfordshire was amongst those which withstood him. 
Indeed, it may be said that all the details which we gather from the 
various historians who record in one way or another William's cam- 
paign, rather point to the submission of Oxfordshire and Berkshire 
from the very first, at the same time as the other southern counties of 
Kent, Surrey, Sussex, and Hampshire. Whether this arose from 
Oxfordshire having been exhausted of its fighting men, like the others; 
or whether from being joined to the kingdom of Wessex, as has already 
been pointed out as possible, it yielded with the rest of that kingdom 
when Harold was conquered ; or whether, as suggested from one con- 
sideration, it was under the rule of Earl Gyrth, who had just been 
slain in the great battle, fighting by the side of Harold ; or lastly, 
whether, still being in the Mercian kingdom (and this from some 
circumstances seems perhaps to be the most probable), it came beneath 
the influence of Eadwine and Morkere — it may certainly be said 
to have given no sign worthy of any mention of having offered 
resistance to Duke William before his coronation, or to King William 


The siege of Oxford, however, finds a place not only in all the 
histories of Oxford 1 , but, even in historical works of such pretensions 
as Thierry's Histoire de la Conquete de T Angleterre^ Lappenberg's 
History, and in many other histories of England 2 . 

In most cases it is implied that the siege took^ place at the end of 
1067 or early in 1068. On William's return from Normandy 3 it is 
clear he had at once to hasten to Devonshire and Cornwall to quell the 
rebellion which had broken out there, but there is no conceivable 
reason for supposing that he took Oxford on his way. Soon after, 
and while he was spending the Easter of 1068 at Winchester, he 
heard that the North was in rebellion. He marched to York. We 
have several details preserved of the campaign, and the total silence of 
all the chronicles as to the siege of Oxford renders it highly improbable 
that such took place. 

On the other hand, the origin of the general acceptance of the 
statement that Oxford was besieged is not far to seek. It is simply an 
' error, caused by a single transcriber, of Oxonia for Exonia, which has 
i been multiplied by successive transcribers ; and since it is so important 

1 Antony Wood, whom most of the other historians of Oxford have copied, con- 
cludes bis paragraph on this year by, 'All that I shall add shall be this qusere, 
whether William the Conqueror who is said by several (not ancient) authors 

I (particularly Rich. Grafton) to be so much offended with the Scholars of Oxford 

I I that he withdrew their maintenance from them for a time, may not arise from their 
j opposition to him when he besieged it?' Annals, ed. 1792, vol. i. p. 127. 

[I; 2 Thierry, in his Histoire de la Conquite de F Angleterre par les Normands (3rd 
|j ed., Paris, 1830, vol. ii. p. 65), has the following expansion of the reference to the 
j, siege, ' La nouvelle de l'alliance formee entre les Saxons, et le Roi d'Ecosse et des 
I rassemblements hostiles qui se faisaient au nord de 1' Angleterre determina Guil- 
i laume a ne pas attendre une attaque, et a prendre vivement l'offensive. Son 
I premier fait d'armes, dans cette nouvelle expedition, fut le siege de la ville d'Oxford.' 
He then applies the notes which William of Malmesbury has given of the siege of 
Exeter to the siege of Oxford, and adds, ' Sur sept cent maisons pres de quatre 
j cents furent detruites.' He then adds (and the combination affords a good illus- 
v\ tration of how, it is much to be feared, many of the older chroniclers on whom we 
j rely so much, compiled their histories), 'Les religieux du Couvent de Sainte Frides- 
1 wide, suivant l'exemple des moines de Hida et de Winchecombe, prirent les armes 
I, pour defendre leur monastere et en furent tous expulses apres la victoire des Nor- 
\ mands.' The authority he gives for this is a line in the Chartulary of S. Frides- 
I wide's, quoted in Dugdale, ' spoliati bonis suis et sedibus appulsi sunt] but separated 
j absolutely from its context, as will be seen. See ante, p. 166, and Appendix A, 
§ 61. It will be observed, however, that the event is definitely stated to have 
j happened before the Norman Conquest, and further that the monks, instead of 
( being driven out, were introduced in the place of the seculars. Lappenberg, in his 
J History of England, ed. 1837, v °l- P- ^ 2 (Geschichte der Europaischen Staaten, 
vol. xiii.), keeps Oxford in his text, though he gives in his note reasons for 
j believing that it is written in error for Exeter. 

3 King William's visit to his dominions in Normandy may be said to have ex- 
| tended from March to December, 1067. 
i 0 2 


an event, if it did happen, in the history of Oxford, it is thought well to 
examine closely the authorities in regard to this part of the story. 

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle D, which provides the basis on which 
the later historians build up their narrative, runs as follows : — 

' 1067. In this year the king came again to England on S. Nicholas* 
mass-day (Dec. 6th) . . . And in this year the king set a heavy tax 
on the poor people ; and nevertheless caused to be harried all that 
they passed over. And then he went to Defenascire, and besieged the 
town of Execeaster for eighteen days, and there many of his own 
army perished, and he promised them well, and ill-performed ... At 
this Easter (March 23rd) the king came to Winchester, . . . and 
Archbishop Ealdred hallowed [Matilda] queen at Westminster on 
Whitsunday (May nth). It was then announced to the king that the 
people in the north had gathered themselves together and would stand 
against him if he came. He then went to Nottingham, and there 
wrought a castle ; and so went to York, and there wrought two castles, 
and in Lincoln and everywhere in that part 1 .' 

Florence of Worcester, writing before 1 1 1 8, summarized this, but 
distinctly says : — 

' Then having gone with a hostile force into Devonshire (in Dom- 
noniam), he besieged and quickly reduced Exeter (Execestram), which 
the citizens and some English Thanes held against him 2 .' 

He is followed verbatim by Simeon of Durham and Roger of 
Hoveden. But William of Malmesbury makes his own paraphrase, head- 
ing the chapter, ' Summary of the Battles of William of England' : — 

e Of all the battles 3 then which he waged this is the summary. He 
early subdued the city of Exeter (urbem Exoniam), which was in 
rebellion, being supported by Divine aid, because, the outer portion 
of the wall falling down, it gave an opening for him, and he attacked it 
all the more fiercely as he declared that men so irreverent would be 

deprived of God's favour He almost devastated York, the only 

refuge left for the rebels, destroying its citizens by famine and by the 
sword V 

He affords no evidence of having any information of any kind other 
than that contained in the Chronicle, and it may be assumed he has 
gratuitously inserted an anecdote in reference to the impudence of 
the defenders, by way of giving point to his remark. Next he describes 

J Anglo-Saxon Chronicle D, sub anno. Chronicle E is so meagre for this year 
(only a few lines) that it omits all about Exeter and the journey to York. Appendix 
A, § 82. 

a Florence of Worcester Chronicon: sub anno. Eng. Hist. Soc. ed. 1849, vol. 
ii. p. I. Appendix A, § 83. 

3 Perhaps ' military expeditions ' would be the better translation of bella here. 

4 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum. Eng. Hist. Soc. 1840, vol. ii. p. 421. 
Appendix A, § 84. 



the siege of York, which took place the following year. It must be 
here remarked that all the known MSS. of William of Malmesbury have 
Exoniam distinctly ; yet when Savile printed his edition of William of 
Malmesbury, he altered it to Oxoniam, and hence, only, it has been 
supposed that there was MS. authority for the reading \ 

Passing over Henry of Huntingdon, who does not mention any 
siege at all till that of York, we come to Orderic Vital, who gives 
a much fuller account of the siege of Exeter, and, writing circum- 
stantially, as if he hap! it from some good source 2 , he notes that Exeter 
was the first to contend for freedom; and, from the context, there 
cannot be a shadow of foundation for supposing that there is here in 
the MS. any error for Oxford. His narrative of William's movements 
is tolerably full, as he makes him then march into Cornwall, and 
back to Winchester in time for Easter; then follows the account 
of Eadwine and Morkere's rebellion in the north, and though several 
places are mentioned, there is an absolute silence as to Oxford. Inci- 
dentally, however, it is noted that William gave Warwick to Henry, son 
of Roger de Beaumont (who was afterwards created Earl of Warwick), 
and that he built at some time or other the castle there ; and that is 
the nearest place to Oxford mentioned. 

We now come to the most important MS. in the course of the 

1 Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores post Bedam (Preface signed ' Henricus Savile') 
Francofurti, 1601, folio 102. 'Urbem Oxoniam rebellantem leviter subegit.' 
There can, however, be no conceivable reason for assuming that Savile used a MS. 
which no one else had ever seen. It is true he does not say what MS. he used, but 
as there is no other important various reading, one must assume he used one of the 
five or six known MSS., all of which have distinctly Exoniam, and altered it on 
his own responsibility to make it coincide with certain MSS. of Matthew Paris. 
Besides, it is very clear, from what precedes and what follows, that William of 
Malmesbury is paraphrasing the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle D, viz. ' he went to 
Defenascire and besieged the town of Exeter.' And, further, it must be remembered 
that Savile is the reputed author of the forged passage which Camden made use of 
in order to enhance the antiquity and historical importance of Oxford. See ante, 
p. 43 ; also the note, respecting his supposed interpolation of the passage about 
Oxford in Ingulph's description of Crowland. However, from the fact that no MS. 
earlier than the close of the sixteenth century is in existence, this gratuitous inter- 
polation cannot be brought home to him. 

2 Orderic Vital, book iv. cap. 4 ; Duchesne, Hist. Norm. Script, p. 510. Orderic 
Vital was born at Atcham, near to Shrewsbury, in 1075. At five years of age he 
went to Shrewsbury to school. At ten years old he went over to the monastery of 
St. Evroult, in Normandy, where he lived the greater part of his life. He certainly 
on one occasion, and probably on more than one during his sojourn there, visited 
England. In 1 1 1 5 he tells us he spent some days at Crowland, in Lincolnshire ; 
but most likely it was on another occasion that he went to Worcester and the 
neighbourhood of his birth. His father died in 11 10. All this shows that he 
might well have conversed with those who had been present as young men at the 
siege of Exeter in 1067, and hence his story may be relied upon. 



evidence bearing on the subject of Oxford being besieged. This is 
Roger of Wendover's chronicle. The passage as it appears in the 
only MS. existing is as follows : — 

s Honv King William besieged Exeter and took it. 
' At this time King William laid siege to the city of Exeter, which 

was in rebellion against him Wherefore William being roused j 

to anger, with very little effort subdued the City. Thence marching J 
to York he almost destroyed the city V 
He is evidently summarizing William of Malmesbury : this is shown j 
not only by his introducing the same anecdote which that writer had 
done, but also by the general context. 

All then, up to this point, is quite clear, and all the chronicles follow 
on one after the other, naming the two places Exeter and York, and j 
those two only. 

Roger of Wendover's chronicle formed the basis of what is known I 
as Matthew Paris' Chronica Majora, and there is preserved in the 
Library of Corpus College, Cambridge 2 , a transcript of Roger of Wen- 
dover's chronicle with additions throughout the early part down to 
1235, and a continuation afterwards. The additions and the con- 
tinuation, there is every reason to think, are in Matthew Paris' own 
handwriting. But the transcriber, in copying Roger of Wendover, 
had written Oxonia instead of Exonia, all the rest being accurately 
followed. The error was not detected, and it was copied off, with 
Matthew Paris' corrections, into the fine MS. preserved in the 
Cottonian Library and the less important in the Harleian Collection 3 . 
And since the more complete copy by Matthew Paris of the St. Albans 
Chronicle became the basis of successive chronicles, the correct 
reading in Roger of Wendover's original copy was entirely overlooked, 
and the erroneous reading, which passed under Matthew Paris' autho- 
rity, found its way into all the later chronicles which treat of this period 4 . 

1 Roger of Wendover, Chronica, sive Flores Historiarum, Eng. Hist. Soc., 1841, 
vol. ii. p. 4. The MS. of this chronicle is preserved in the Bodleian Library (Douce, 
MS. CCVII), and is a fine vellum copy, written in the thirteenth century. After j 
the year 1235 occur the words, Hue usque scripsit cronica dominus Rogerus del 
Wendover. This does not prove it to be the original autograph, but if it is not 
it is certainly a very early transcript. The other MS., which was in the Cottonian 
Collection (Otho, B. V.), was burnt, and only fragments remain. Roger of Wendover 
is found to have died 1236. Appendix, § 85. 

2 The MS. is known as C. C. C. C. 26. The continuation of the same as 
C. C. C. C. 16. Matt. Paris, Chronica Majora, Rolls Series, ed. 1872, vol. i. p. 465. 

3 The Cottonian MS. is marked Nero, D.V.; the Harleian MS. is numbered 1620. 
It is noted however by Sir Frederick Madden (Matt. Paris, Historia Minor, Rolls 
Series, 1866, vol. i. p. 10) that in the Cottonian MS. Exoniam is retained in the 
rubric although Oxoniam has been followed in the text. 

4 Matthew Paris, when compiling his Historia Anglorum (which, because it is 


Having disposed of the only vestiges of evidence of any recorded 
siege, it remains to say a word or two as to an unrecorded siege. 
It is of course impossible to prove that such did not occur. But 
a consideration of the circumstances renders it, a priori, highly im- 
probable that Oxford was besieged by William at all. The coronation 
of William at Westminster, although it virtually rnade him king over all 
England, may not certainly have rendered him actually so. There 
were the outlying districts, no doubt, which were in a state of rebellion, 
and Devonshire and Cornwall seem to have found leaders to refuse 
submission to the new king ; while Eadwine and Morkere, playing, as 
they did, fast and loose with William, at one moment his guest in his 
Normandy progress, and the next in open rebellion against him, seem 
to have gathered together a force of some kind in Northumbria early 
in 1068. But the Midland counties had no rulers ; as already said, 
Gyrth was slain, and Leofwine also, who might have done some 
service in Kent and Essex. There was no one to lead a rebellion, 
and for a solitary city to stand out would have been useless with the 
prestige which William had gained by his energy and decision. 

It has already been pointed out that no reason can be assigned for his 
besieging Oxford on his way during his first campaign in Devonshire, 
when Exeter was besieged, nor in that of the north, which followed 
sometime after ; it may be added, that there is no reason which can 
be adduced why, in his second campaign into Yorkshire, in 1070, he 
should stop to besiege a city like Oxford ; nor indeed in any of the 
campaigns previous to 107 1, when we find Robert D'Oilgi in quiet 
possession of the city. 

The erroneous reading of Oxford, however, has permeated, as has 
been said, nearly all histories, and it is necessary here to refer to a 
remarkable instance in which this erroneous reading is made to 
support a theory, while the theory is supposed to prove the integrity 
of the reading. 

In the edition of the Domesday Survey, printed by order of the English 
Government in 1 8 1 6, the preface by Sir Henry Ellis has the following 

an abridgment of the Chronica Majora which he had edited, is called for con- 
venience Historia Minor), follows the reading of Oxonia, not having detected 
the error of the scribe. Historia Anglorum, Rolls Series, 1866, p. 10. Amongst 
the later editions, so to speak, of the St. Alban's Chronicle, that which was 
completed at Westminster, and which, because it incorporated Matthew Paris' 
Chronicle, seems to have been attributed to an imaginary Matthew of Westminster, 
has been very extensively used by the historians of the fifteenth century ; and as 
that had the erroneous reading, it may be said literally to have found its way into 
every English history which refers to the siege of a town at this time. 



argument on the question of a large number of houses being returned 
vastae et destructae : — 

' The extraordinary number of houses specified as desolated at 
Oxford requires explanation. If the passage is correct, Matthew 
Paris probably gives us the cause of it under the year 1067, when 
"William the Conqueror subdued Oxford on his way to York V 

It may be asked reasonably, if this is not so, how is so unusual a 
number of houses wasted and destroyed to be accounted for ? In the 
first place it must be taken into account that the term vastae does not 
necessarily mean destroyed, but simply empty, i.e. untenanted, and 
therefore not liable to pay tax ; and houses in this state may have 
made up a large proportion of the total number, 478. Many, too, 
from being uninhabited, would be out of repair also. The word 
destructae ; however, is also added by the compiler of the Survey, and 
therefore we ought to look for some definite act of violence. We have 
not to look far for this amongst recorded events. The rebel army, 
headed by Eadwine and Morkere, marching southwards and obliging 
the Gemot to be transferred from Northampton to Oxford on October 
28th, 1065, as already described 2 , would account for a destruction 
such as this. The few words of the Chronicle give an insight into 
the nature of this so-called army, in reality a rebel mob. They had 
slain all the household men of Earl Tostig — that is, all men in autho- 
rity and probably all who had property — and had taken all his weapons 
which were at York, besides all the treasure they could lay their hands 
on. They had gathered as they went southward men of Nottingham- 
shire, Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire, till they came to Northampton. 
Here Eadwine met them with his men, and many Welshmen, we read, 
came with him. It will be remembered also that the Chronicle of 
this year adds that ' the Rythrenan' or the ' northern men,' ' did 
great harm about Northampton, while Harold went on their errand, 

1 General Introduction to the Domesday Survey, by Sir Henry Ellis : London, 
1816, folio, p. lxii. ; 8vo, 1833, i. p. 194. The suggestion that Matthew Paris implies 
that it was on the way to York [in 1068] is distinctly erroneous, as has already been 
pointed out. Exeter and York are described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and by 
the many historians who follow it, including William of Malmesbury, as two places 
besieged distinctly at different times, the one before Easter, the other after Whitsun- 
tide. As Matthew Paris' Chronicle is really only a transcript of that of Roger of 
Wendover, which follows William of Malmesbury and has Exeter, it is unreason- 
able to imply that he omitted all reference to the first campaign, and inserted 
an account of a siege in the second, which no chronicler had previously ever 
heard of. Thierry, as already shown, evidently follows the same lines — misled 
probably by Sir Henry Ellis. In fact when once an error of the kind has been 
made, all historians seem to follow it. 

3 See ante, p. 181. 


inasmuch as they slew men, and burned houses and corn, and took 
all the cattle V When to this is added, from the contemporary life 
of Edward the Confessor, already noticed, that the mob came past 
the middle of England as far as Oxford 2 , which agrees with the cir- 
cumstance mentioned in the Saxon Chronicle of the Gemot being 
finally held at Oxford, there are ample means of accounting for the 
devastation which took place there. The circumstance, too, of a 
large number of houses being destroyed does not point so much to 
the results of a siege in the case of Oxford, where the castle stood at 
one extremity of the town, as it would in the case of a town where 
the castle stood in the midst, and where the houses had grown up 
round it. The earthwork of King Ethelred, which was, perhaps, 
sufficient to withstand the irregular forces of the Danes, would not 
have availed long against the well-drilled army and the well-armed 
archers of the Duke of Normandy ; and when it was taken, though 
the soldiers might, out of wanton mischief, have burned some few 
houses, it would not have been at all in accordance with Duke 
William's policy to have allowed them to destroy the town, and 
therefore it is unreasonable to assume that it was done; espe- 
cially, too, as this reason is not given in the Domesday Survey, which 
it probably would have been, judging from other similar incidental 
notes, had the siege been the cause of the destruction of houses. 
But the rebel mob of the North, joined as they were by Welshmen, and 
having cast off all restraint and discipline 3 , would, on arriving at a 
town, be readily prompted to any wanton mischief or atrocity, and be 
quite capable of destroying two-thirds of the buildings ; and though it 
had happened more than twenty years before the Survey, still, remem- 
bering the unsettled state of the kingdom, it is no wonder that the 
men of Oxford had not repaired the losses. Those who were driven 
out from their homes could not well have returned while Eadwine was 
still lord over the shire 4 , for many who had houses in Oxford were 

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicles D, E, sub anno 1065. See ante, p. 183. 

2 The words describing their course are as follow : ' Nam conglomerate in infini- 
tum numerum more turbinis seu tempestatis hostili expeditione perveniunt ad 
Axoneuorde oppidum, satis scilicet pervagati ultra medise Anglise terminum.' Lives 
of Edward the Confessor, Rolls Series, 1858, p. 422. 

3 ' Ejecto autem eo, ad vomitum reversi sunt veteris malitise, amissoque freno 
disciplines, furorem adoriuntur majoris insanise.' Ibid. p. 422. 

4 In the last chapter it was implied that there was much difficulty in assigning 
the various counties to the various earldoms. In 105 1 it may be taken as certain 
that both Oxfordshire and Berkshire were included within the earldom of Swegen. 
(See Florence of Worcester, sub anno.) Whether or not for any reason Gyrth or 
Leofwine had their territories extended, and either of them took in Oxfordshire, 



those who possessed land in the immediate neighbourhood ; for the" 
houses were not possessed only by the citizens who had no other 
homes. Daring the years 1067 to 107 1 everything relating to the 
security of this part of England was uncertain. Then Robert D'Oilgi 
was made governor of the town, and those who had left, even sup- 
posing they might have returned to their lands under new lords, 
might have not cared to return to their Oxford houses even if they 
had the money to restore them, which is not at all probable. On the 
question, however, of the waste mansions more will have to be said 
in the next chapter under the account of the Domesday Survey of 

The next great event is the new fortification of Oxford : of this we do 
not find any notice in the historians on which chief reliance has been 
hitherto placed. The series of Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, as has been 
pointed out, are now reduced practically to the single record supposed 
to have been compiled originally at Peterborough, but whether con- 
tinued there after the Conquest is not ascertainable. Other chronicles 
however, preserved and continued in different abbeys, in a measure 
take their place, and, while giving a general summary of events culled 
from the writings of whatever historian the chronicler happened to 
possess, record here and there local events, either derived from actual 
knowledge or deduced from charters or entries in registers found in 
the archives of the abbey. Such, as regards Oxford, are the 
Chronicles of Oseney and the Chronicle of Abingdon. Unfortunately, 
no chronicle seems ever to have been kept at S. Frideswide's, or the 
material for the history of Oxford might have been less scarce than it 
is, nor yet at Ensham, the charters of which abbey, so far as they are 
preserved, throw hardly any light upon this period. 

It is to the first of these that we owe the mention of the building of 
the Castle. The entry is very brief, as follows : — 

'mlxxi. The same year was built (aed'tficatum est) the Castle of 
Oxford, by Robert d'Oili the First V 

may be doubtful. It seems certain, however, that the Northumbrian mob with 
Eadwine at their head overran Oxfordshire in 1065, and annexed it practically to 
the one great northern kingdom, Harold being driven below Thames, i. e. into the old 
Wessex. The Northumbrian earls seem to have overrun Mercia just as the Wessex 
king had overrun Mercia more than three hundred years previously (ante, -p. 108). 

1 Annates Monastcrii de Oseneia. Printed in Annates Monastici, Rolls Series, 
1869, vol. iv. p. 9. The MS. is in the Cottonian Collection, and marked Tiberius 
A. 9. It is written in the same handwriting down to the year 1233, and then 
continued by different hands ; but although this is the date of the MS., there is no 
doubt but that, generally speaking, the events have been recorded at an earlier 
date. In a MS. in Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the building of the castle is 
put under the year 1072. 'Robertas de Oili struxit castellum Oxonii,' Dugdale, 


The abbey in which these annals were kept was not founded till 
1 1 29, but then the founder was Robert D'Oilgi, the nephew of the 
great Robert D'Oilgi, mentioned in the extract. It is natural, there- 
fore, that the deeds of the uncle should be recorded in the annals of 
the abbey ; besides which, the documents which came into their 
possession are found incidentally to have recited the building of the 

But the question which suggests itself here is the force of the word 
' built/ It does not necessarily exclude the fact of a castle existing 
here before, because we know that there must have been such ; nor, 
on the other hand, does it necessarily imply that he erected a castle 
such as is usually conceived by the word, namely, a keep 1 with stone 
walls and stone towers surrounding it : but there is a middle course 
between the two which may reasonably be taken. We were not 
indebted to him wholly for the Castle, nor did he make what he 
found into such a castle, as we can picture, from the details and 
descriptions which have come down to us, to have existed in the 
twelfth or thirteenth centuries. The great mound was certainly there 
already ; this is not of the character of the work of the Normans at 
this period ; but no doubt he deepened the ditches, and perhaps on the 
west slightly extended the enceinte, and added, possibly, new palisades, 
if not walls. But the main work, which struck so much the annalist, 
and prompted him to use the word * built/ was the great tower, and 
that built of stone, which is now existing, and which, situated upon the 
line of enceinte, guarded the western approach to the Castle. The 
means of attack had improved during the past hundred and fifty 
years, and a lofty tower had great advantages over the mound as a 
means of defence : it was less easily assailed, the defenders could 
more safely reach the summit, and when there they had a much 
better position against the assailants below than from the sloping 

Mon. vol. vi. p. 251 ; and this agrees with a passage which occurs in the Oseney 
Cartulary, from which, no doubt, it was derived. 

1 It has been thought that Robert D'Oilgi might have erected something of the 
nature of a stone keep on the top of the mound. If so, however, all traces of it, 
even down to the foundation, would have been removed in Henry the Third's reign, 
when the well-room was constructed at the top of the mound. There were a few 
traces existing some years ago of what appeared to have been the foundation of a 
tolerably large building, some fifty-eight feet in diameter, and in the form of 
a decagon surrounding the hexagonal plan of the well-room, and probably of the 
same date; they are laid down on the plan given in King's Vestiges of Oxford 
Castle, London, 1796. The probabilities are that the builders of Robert D'Oilgi's 
castle would not have ventured to erect one of the great solid structures common 
in the eleventh and twelfth centuries on the top of an artificial mound of earth ; 
they would have known that the foundations must soon have given way. 



sides of a mound. It is impossible to conceive that the two were the 
work of the same age, or part of the same system of fortification ; and 
if so, there is no doubt the mound was the earlier. But just as there 
are grounds, which have already been given 1 , for believing that this 
mound was of the early part of the tenth century, from its similarity 
to those of Warwick, Tamworth, &c, which were part of one system 
of fortification then adopted, so the masonry and such architectural 
details as exist in the present tower leave little or no doubt but that 
what we still see is the work of Robert D'Oilgi, referred to in the 
Oseney Annals as having been completed in 107 1. 

The building of the Castle was necessitated now, not by fear of 
foreign invasions, nor, indeed, of the attacks of one kingdom or 
earldom by another, but by the danger of revolt. King William 
knew full well that there was still an English spirit slumbering, and 
that any day circumstances might arise or leaders be found by which 
it might be awakened and cause him much trouble and expense to 
suppress it. Numerous instances of the disturbed state of the country 
may be found ; and William, besides requiring safe retreats for his 
garrisons, required also prisons for those who were suspected of 
treason 2 . His plan seems to have been to erect castles, and confide 
them to friends or followers whom he could trust. Referring to what 
was done in this district the Abingdon Chronicler writes : — 

' Then castles were built for the preservation of the kingdom, at 

Wallingford (JVal'mgqforde), and at Oxford (Oxeneforde), and at Windsor 

(Wilde sore), and at other places V 

These three were especially selected to guard the passage of the 
Thames. We have no record of the exact date of the building of 
Wallingford Castle 4 , and it must be remembered that the Abingdon 

1 See ante, p. 117. 

2 The Abingdon Chronicler supplies one or two illustrations : e. g. he dilates 
upon the unfortunate state of England, and first records the capture of Bishop 
^Egelwin of Durham [Bp. 1056-71], who, having been found in arms, was sent as 
a prisoner to be kept at Abingdon Abbey : while on the other hand Ealdred, abbot 
of Abingdon, who was suspected, was sent to be kept as a prisoner in Wallingford 
Castle [1070-71] till he was handed over to the care of Walchelin, Bishop of Win- 
chester [Bp. 1070-98], (vol. i. p. 4S6). Also, when Abbot Adelelm first came to 
the abbey [c. 1071], he never went about unless accompanied by armed men (vol. ii. 
P- 3). 

3 Chron. Monast. de Abingdon, Rolls Series, 1858, vol. ii. p. 3. 

4 It may be safely assumed that the castle built by the Conqueror at Wallingford 
was situated near the river at the northern extremity of the town, where there exists 
an artificial mound of the same character as that at Oxford, Warwick, Tam- 
worth, &c. ; this mound was probably erected at about the same time, and for 
the same purpose, as the others, though the erection is not recorded, and the 
remains are not sufficient to show what William added. In after years the 


chronicler is rather summarizing events than recording them, since 
there is no reason to suppose his Chronicle to be much earlier than the 
two MS. transcripts we possess of it, namely, of the thirteenth century. 

As regards Windsor, too, it is not at all clear when the Conqueror 
commenced erecting the castle, upon the lofty outlier of chalk which, 
surmounted as it is by the modernized medieval buildings, forms so 
conspicuous an object in this part of the Thames valley. Henry of 
Huntingdon records that the first time the king's court was held on this 
hill was by Henry I. in 11 10, implying that Henry and not William 
erected the same, and that all events previously chronicled as taking 
place at Windsor were at Old Windsor in the parish of Clewer 1 . 

It is singular, perhaps, that neither Orderic Vital, nor yet other his- 
torians of the twelfth century make any mention of the erection of a 
castle at Oxford, though they record the building of castles at several 
other places ; so that were it not for the local information derived 

medieval castle which took the place of William's work played an important part 
at several periods of our history, notably in King Stephen's reign, in King John's 
reign, and in that of Edward II. It was of considerable extent ; Leland, describing 
it in Henry the Eighth's time, writes : ' The castelle yoinith to the North Gate of 
the Toune, and hath 3 Dikis, large and deap, and welle waterid. About ech of 
the 2 first Dikis as apon the crestes of the creastes of the Ground cast out of rennith 
an embatelid Waulle now fore yn ruine, and for the most part defaced. Al the 
goodly Building with the Tourres and Dungeon 3 be within the 3 Dike. 5 Leland's 
Itinerary, Hearne's ed. vol. ii. p. 13. Camden, writing in Elizabeth's reign, also 
describes it : 'Its size and magnificence used to strike me with astonishment, when 
I came thither a lad from Oxford, it being a retreat for the students of Christ Church. 
It is environed with a double wall and a double ditch, and in the middle on a high 
artificial hill stands the citadel, in the ascent to which by steps I have seen a well 
of immense depth.' (Camden's Britannia, Gough's ed., 1789, vol. i. p. 148.) The 
castle again* played a part in the history of the civil war in the time of Charles I, 
and eventually, by an order in Council dated November 18, 1652, it was demolished ; 
some of the ditches, however, are in places to be traced, here and there portions of 
the old masonry crop up above the soil, and the mound still remains. The grounds 
are now laid out as a private garden attached to the house belonging to Mr. Hedges 
of Wallingford,who has written an account of the castle ( The History of Wallingford, 
by John Kirby Hedges, J. P. 2 vols. London, 1881). Mr. Hedges (p. 196) thinks 
the language employed in the Survey respecting the eight hagae being destroyed, 
? implies that a new castle was built and not in substitution of one existing ' ; but 
surely the case is similar to that at Oxford. See p. 203. The castle is mentioned in 
the Domesday Survey (fol. 56 a), only in consequence of eight out of fourteen hagae 
having been destroyed to make room for its extension. As to the general fortifi- 
cation of the whole town, so Roman-like in the plan, and of which the vallum 
remains so perfect at the south-western extremity, there are many difficulties in 
assigning to it a date. 

1 See Proceedings of Oxford Arch, and Historical Society, New Series, Nov. 1881, 
vol. iv. p. 30. In the Domesday Survey, under Clewer, there is the entry of five 
hydes, of which four and a half hydes pay tax, the castle being in the remaining half 
hyde. This of course refers to the old castle. The new one on the hill above 
Windsor is not mentioned in Domesday at all. 



from the Oseney Cronicle and Chartulary, confirmed as it is by the 
Abingdon Chronicle, we should have been left in ignorance as to the 
time when Oxford Castle was erected. 

It will also be observed that it is not mentioned in Domesday, 
though the mansions set apart for the repair of the wall are alluded 
to; the reason, however, of this is probably that here there was 
little or no encroachment on the town, as was the case with 
Wallingford, Lincoln, and some other towns where the castle is men- 
tioned in consequence of houses being destroyed ; here it would seem 
that the new castle followed the line of the existing entrenchments ; if 
not those of the time of Edward the Elder, when the castle enceinte 
was first set out, at least, those more extended, perhaps, of the time of 
Edward the Confessor. Of course being royal property and kept in 
the king's hands, the castles would not of themselves be entered in the 
Survey, since they were not liable to pay any tax to the crown. 

It was perhaps due to the piety of Robert D'Oilgi that a chapel with 
a provision for attendant priests or canons was founded in the Castle 
some two or three years after he had erected the tower. 

In the Oseney Annals, already referred to, we find under the year 
1074, the following : — 

' mlxxiv. The Church of S. George was founded in Oxford Castle 
(in Castello Oxenfordenst) by Robert d'Oili the First and Roger de IvryV 

It should be mentioned here that there are two Chronicles of 
Oseney, one of which may be said generally to be a copy of the other, 
though in parts different. The second one was the work of a certain 
Thomas Wykes, an inmate of the abbey, but as far as this passage is 
concerned, it is simply an abridgment by Wykes of the original of the 
Abbey Chronicle. 

'mlxxiv. The Church of S. George was founded in the Castle of 
Oxford (in Castro Oxoniae) V 

But we have, besides the Annals of Oseney, another source of in- 
formation, namely copies of charters in the Oseney Cartulary. 

Since the property was afterwards granted to Oseney, the com- 
piler of the Oseney Cartulary, having the original charters before 
him, drew up a summary of the facts to be gleaned from them, 
and prefixed it to the copies of the charters which he transcribed. 

1 Annalcs Monastic?'., Rolls Series, vol. iv. p. 10. 

2 Printed in Annates Monastici, Rolls Series, 1869, vol. iv. p. 10, from the Wykes' 
Chronicle (Cottonian MS. Titus A. 14.) Wykes probably began compiling his 
Chronicle about 1 2 70, making use of the copy of the Oseney Annals, which we 
possess only in part. 


Unfortunately this Cartulary, as before explained 1 , suffered much in 
the fire of 1731. We are therefore dependant principally upon tran- 
scripts made before the fire. It so happens that of the greater part of 
the Cartulary, or of one very similar to it, an English version was 
made some time before the Dissolution, and this has been preserved 
in the Public Record Office. Judging from the handwriting, this 
version was made in Henry the Sixth's or Henry the Seventh's reign, 
and the translation, so far as opportunity has been afforded of com- 
parison, is found to be very close to the original. The general 
history of the foundation runs as follows : — 

Of the Fundation of the Chapell of Seynte George. 
It is to be myndyd that Robert Doyly and Roger of Ivory, sworne 
brethren and iconfederyd or ibownde everich to other by fey the and sac- 
rament come to the conquest of Inglonde with Kyng William bastarde. 

This Kyng gafe to the said Robte Iveyrie baronyes of Doylybys 
and of Saynte Walerye. 

In the yere fro the Incarnation of our Lorde A. M.lxxij, was 
ibelde the castell of Oxonforde in the tymeof Kyng William aforsaide. 
This Robt. Doylly gafe to his sworn brother Roger aforsaide a baronye 
the which is nowe icallid of Seynte Walerye. 

In the yere off our Lorde a. M.thre score and xiiij [1074] was 
ifounded the church of Saynte George in the castell of Oxonforde of 
Robt Doylly the firste, and of Roger of Ivory, in the tyme of Kyng 
William bastarde, the which sett in the seyde church seculer chanons, 
and certeyne rentes of the tweyne baronyes afore saide to the seyde 
chanons asseyned of churchis, londis, tithis, and possessions, and other 

Then follows the charter of Robert D'Oilgy. It is probably called 
rightly that of the first Robert, but since he died early in William 
Rufus's reign the reference to King Henry must be an interpolation 
from a confirmation charter. 

A Charter of Robert Doylly the First of the Fundacion of the Church of 
Seynte George, tgefe to the Seculere Chanons ; the which undurfoloaueth. 
Be hit iknowe to the feythfull men of holy Church both present and 
to be tht I Robert Doylly, willyng and grauntyng Aldithe my wiffe 
and my brethren Nigelle and Gilberte, gafe and graunted and with this 
presente charter confirmed into pure and perpetualle almes to God, 
and to the church of Seynte George in the castell of Oxonforde ; and 
to the chanons in hit servyng God, and to ther successoures, the 
church, the which for the helth of Kyng Henry and the welfare of all 
the reame ; Also and for myne helth and of my wiffe, and brethen, 
fadurs and modurs, and of our frendes, all thyngs, tenements, tithis, and 
possessions undurwrite ; that is to say, the church of Seynte Marye 
Mawdelyn, the which is isett in the subbarbis of Oxonforde, with thre 
1 See ante, p. 9. 


hides of londe in Walton, and medys and tithis to the same church 
perteyning, as hit is conteyned withinne, 1 How the Church of Seynte 
George come, &c.' 1 

Since the name of Roger of Ivry was so closely connected with 
the gift, it seems necessary, in order to complete the account, 
that the copy of his grant should be also given. It is much in 
the same terms as the previous charter, but there are slight vari- 
ations, and these raise questions as to how far the lands in Walton 
granted by him are the same as those granted by Robert D'Oilgi, 
and consequently what was the nature of that curious partnership 
which seems to have existed between Robert D'Oilgi and Roger 
of Ivry, which the author of the English version has translated 
' sworn e brethren iconfederyd and ibownde everich to other' (fratres 
jurati, et per fidem, et sacramentum confederati). It runs as follows : — 
A Confirmation of Roger of Ivorye of ye gifte of ye saide Robert. 
Knowe they that be present and to be that I Roger of Ivorye for 
the helth of our lorde Kynge and of all the reame and also for the helth 
of my lorde Robert Doylly and Aldithe his wiffe and the helth of myne, 
have I graunted and with my present charter confermed to God, and 
to the church of Seynte George the which is isett in the castle of 
Oxonforde all landes and tenements, tithis, rentis, and possessions, the 
which the saide Robert D'oylly of his baronyis gafe and graunted, and 
assyned to God and to the church of Seynte George afore saide and to 
the chanons there servyng God, that is to say the church of Seynte 
Marye Mawdeleyne, the which is isett in the subarbis of Oxonforde 
and with thre hides in Walton and ye londe of twenty acre, &c. as 
they been conteyned withinne in the title ' Howe the church was 
igefe of seynte george to the chanons of Oseneye, &c.' 
Then follow two charters directly connected with the foundation, 
and the lands therein named duly appear later on as amongst the 
gifts confirmed by Robert D'Oilgi's nephew, Robert D'Oilgi the 
younger. The first is by a Thomas Deen (called in the confirmation 
charter Thomas le Den) of his croft called ' Dervfs Croft] and else- 
where ' Denes Croft,' described as in the suburbs of Oxford. The 
second is a charter by a certain Brunman of Walton, 1 granting all 
his londe with medys and other pertinences' the which he held of 

1 From an English version of the Cartulary of Oseney, written partly on paper, 
partly on parchment, preserved in the Public Record Office, Miscellaneous Books, 
vol. xxvi. Oseney, fol. i. Copies of the original charters, &c, here given, so far as 
they can be obtained, will be printed in the Appendix, but it would seem the leaves 
on which they were written in the Cottonian MS., and which probably came at 
the commencement of the volume, are irretrievably lost. The words with which 
the charter ends refer to the title of a charter summary given later on folio 5. 
Appendix A, § 86. 

a Ibid. fol. t . Appendix A, § 87. 


Robert D'Oilgi in ' Walton and Twenty acre.' These fields to the 
north of Oxford cannot be perhaps identified *, but we find Roger 
of Ivry in the Domesday Survey holding the manor of Walton. 

The chief point of interest is the naming of S. Mary Magdalen 
Church in connection with the grant. It was £he usual practice that 
an open space should be left outside the chief gates of a town ; for many 
reasons such an arrangement was found to be convenient. Further, 
too, in the suburbs of towns, outside the gates, just as is still seen in 
towns in France, which have kept up longer mediaeval customs than 
in this country, houses are erected outside the line of the ' Octroi/ 
which in many cases is identical with the line of the old fortification. 
Whether then for strangers who, from one cause or another, could not 
at once enter the city, or to supply the wants of the group of houses 
which had sprung up there, a church had been provided. 

Such churches were more frequently dedicated to S. Giles, whence 
this saint had come to be considered the patron of beggars ; but in this 
case the church just without the North gate was dedicated for some 
reason to S. Mary Magdalen, and it was not till long after that the 
houses had stretched sufficiently far along the Northern road to 
warrant another church, which was then dedicated to S. Giles. " 

No record exists telling us distinctly that the church was of 
Robert D'Oilgi's foundation; but taking into account the circum- 
stances attending the history of the town, it is most probable that 
such a church was not erected till Robert D'Oilgi assumed the 
governorship and when there was some chance of peace and of pros- 
perity returning to the town, and when it was his duty, in carrying 
out the policy of his king, to further all such improvements. 

There is nothing to show of what character the church was, but 
there is every reason to believe it occupied the identical spot which 
the church of S. Mary Magdalen now occupies. The peculiarity of 
the position will be observed, namely, that it is, and always has been, 
in the middle of the open space above referred to ; and, since a portion 
of the road passed along both the eastern and western end of the 
church, the only means of extension has been on the north and south, 
so that the breadth of the church is as great as its length. No trace of 

1 In a later charter temp. Henry I. the description runs as follows : — ' Ecclesiam 
S. Mariae Magdalenae quae est in vico extra portam de Nort, et terram ex utraque 
parte viae per quam itur de Waltona ad castellum' (Dug. vi. 253). Taking the 
charters as a whole the evidence points to the land in Walton not being directly 
given to S. George's, but having been given to S. Mary Magdalen by the under- 
tenants Dene and Brunman with the consent of their Lord, Robert D'Oilgi ; and 
when the church was given to S. George's of course the land went with it. 




any early work now remains ; judging from views some fifty years ago 
there was a Norman chancel arch, apparently of King Stephen's or 
Henry the Second's reign, and a doorway of still earlier date in the 
wall of the northern aisle ; but all was done away with in the great rage 
for church restoration which marked the early years of the reign of 
Queen Victoria and with it any vestiges that might have existed of 
the early work l . 

And as to S. George's Church, when it is asked what remains, 
the answer must be an unsatisfactory one. The tall Tower in this 
case seems wholly to have served for the fortification. Unlike 
S. Michael's, with its tower windows and their midwall shafts, it 
does not seem to have been intended to hold church bells. While the 
arch openings, at the top, and practically in the parapet itself, seem 
to have been intended for access to the wooden galleries, which in 
times of danger were customarily erected round the outside of towers 
or any other structures intended for defensive purposes, and which 
bore the name of hourdes 2 . The lower chamber of the great tower 
was approached from an eastern archway. The first floor chamber 
and all above were approached by the doorway, some twelve feet or 
more from the ground, to which access was obtained probably from the 
level of the vallum or wall. 

Of the church itself, the crypt, together with a portion of the walls 
of the chambers which had been erected between the church and the 
great Tower, were remaining perfect up to the year 1805. In con- 
sequence of plans having been drawn for the erection of prison 
buildings, in utter disregard of these ancient relics, everything was swept 
away, and the new work to be erected on the site of the chapel requir- 
ing deep foundations, even the masonry of the original crypt was dug 
out. The stones, however, were preserved and re-erected near their 
original site, and on the same plan; according to Mr. King each 
pillar being set within eighteen inches of the original position ; but 
the result is, that the remains are deprived of all historical value. 
Before they were disturbed a plan seems to have been made, and is 
engraved, with apparent pretensions to accuracy, in the Vestiges of 

1 During recent restorations in the nave no trace of any ancient crypt was found. 
The only signs of a crypt are in the south aisle, but so far as can be seen all 
traces of original work, if any existed, were entirely effaced in the fourteenth 
century when the south aisle was built. 

8 The best summary perhaps of the use of the Hourdes and their variety, and 
the traces which exist in the stonework by which their previous existence can be 
determined, will be found in Viollet le Due's Architecture of the Middle Ages, 
English edition, Oxford, i860. See index to same under 'Hourde.' 


Oxford Castle 1 . Unfortunately, the descriptive letterpress is of a most 
unsatisfactory character, Mr. King being incompetent to deal with 
the architectural details, and his view that the church adjoined the 
tower, while the crypt was some distance off, is of course unten- 
able. The plan shows that some forty feet or more existed between 
the western end of the crypt and the Castle ,tower, and though the 
church probably extended westward somewhat beyond the back of the 
crypt, it is highly improbable that it extended the whole distance, 
while the angle of the walls adjoining the tower shows that they were 
additions of much later design. A view engraved at a somewhat 
earlier date 2 than Mr. King's plan, shows a little apsidal chapel standing, 
absolutely separated from the tower, and apparently over the very 
spot which, according to that plan, was occupied by the crypt. 

The crypt as it existed before its destruction was about twenty-five 
feet across in the interior and a little more from east to west, measur- 
ing from the far extremity of the apse. The general character of the 
work which remains is that of Henry the First's reign ; but taking into 
account the history, there is much reason to suppose it to be the 
original work of Robert D'Oilgi. The foundation of Oseney Abbey 
took place in 1129, though the church and college were not incor- 
porated with it until Stephen's reign, i.e. in 1149 ; but there is little 
reason for supposing that at either of those dates the Oseney com- 
munity would have rebuilt a church in that position : the consideration 
of the later history of S. George's Church however belongs to the next 
century 3 . 

1 Vestiges of Oxford Castle, by Edward King, fol. 1795. The book contains 
some interesting views and details, and a conjectural plan of the general line of the 
Castle ditch and the bridges across it. 

2 An engraving of Oxford Castle, dated March 1785, given in Grose's Antiquities 
of England and Wales, vol. iv. p. 182. At the same time both this view and that 
given by Hearne in his edition of Guilielmi Neubrigensis Historia, 1719, and 
engraved by Berghers, which also represents a similar apsidal chapel, may be open 
to question as to accuracy. Mr. King says the little chapel above the crypt was 
erected in comparatively modern times ; this statement however is based possibly 
on the fact that it is not shown in Loggan's view, or in that of Agas ; still this 
circumstance is of little force compared with the improbability of an apsidal chapel 
being erected there in the eighteenth century absolutely de novo. 

3 The charter, containing a confirmation of the grants, and further grants made 
by Robert D'Oilgi the younger, nephew of Robert the elder, is given by Dugdale, 
vol. viii. p. 1462, as from a copy preserved in the Treasury of S. John's College. 
The date, from the signatures, must be after 11 19, about which time the nephew 
succeeded to his uncle's property. Also charters appear in the Oseney Register 
above referred to, confirming the gift, one of which is printed by Dugdale, vol. vi. 
p. 251. And the confirmation charter of Henry I. is found in an 'Inspeximus ' in 
the Charter Rolls, 13 Edw. II. No. 10, and printed in Dugdale (Ibid. p. 253). 

In 1 147 there was a lawsuit terminated respecting a claim which S. Frideswide's 



In the Abingdon Abbey Chronicle, to which reference has already 
been made, we find Robert D'Oilgi several times mentioned, and, as 
what is there told bears upon the work which he did towards the 
strengthening and improvement of Oxford, a few words of extract will 
not be out of place. It seems that at first he bore a bad character in the 
eyes of the annalist, but afterwards a good one. Here is an extract : — 

' In his time (i. e. of Abbot Ethelhelm 1 ) and in the time of the two 
kings, that is to say of William who had conquered the English, and 
of his son William, there was a certain ' Constabularius 2 ' of Oxford 
called Robert ' de Oili,' in whose charge at that time was placed that 
district, both as regards the orders to be given, and the acts done, as 
if they were ordered by the king himself. Now he was very wealthy, 
and spared neither rich nor poor in exacting money from them, to in- 
crease his own treasure. As is said of such in the short verse, — 

As grows of wealth the store, so grows desire for more. 
Everywhere he molested the churches, in his desire for gaining money, 
chiefly the Abbey of Abingdon, such as taking away their possessions 
and continually annoying them with law-suits, and sometimes putting 
them at the King's mercy. Amongst other wicked things he took 
away from the Monastery, by the King's consent, a certain meadow 
situated outside the Walls of Oxford, and appropriated it for the use of 
the soldiers of the Castle. At which loss the Abingdon brotherhood 
were very sad, more than for any other ills. Then they all came to- 
gether before S. Mary's altar, which had been dedicated by S. Dunstan 
the Archbishop, and S. Athelwald Bishop, and while prostrating them- 
selves before it prayed heaven to avenge them on Robert de Oili, the 
plunderer of the Monastery, or to lead him to make satisfaction. 
Meanwhile, whilst they were supplicating the Blessed Virgin day and 
night, Robert fell into a grievous sickness, under which he, being im- 
penitent, suffered for many days V 

In the passage quoted it will be observed that reference is made to 
a certain meadow outside the walls of Oxford. This no doubt is the 

monastery had laid to S. Mary Magdalen church ; it was then adjudged to belong 
to S. George in the Castle. (Oseney Chron. Annales Mon., Rolls Series, iv. p. 25.) 
This shows the activity of S. Frideswide in the twelfth century, in contrast to the 
lethargy which, so far as we can judge, was exhibited in the eleventh. Although 
several of the later charters and documents connected with Oseney refer back to and 
throw light upon this early foundation of S. George in the Castle, and accompanying 
grants, it is thought well to reserve them to some future occasion, when they can be 
taken in connection with other documents of the twelfth century. 

1 He was appointed abbot in 107 1, and held his position till the time of his 
sudden death in 1084 (C/iron. Mon. Ab. ii. p. 284). His name is spelt Ethellel- 
mus and Adelelmus. He came from Jumieges (Ibid. p. 283). 

2 He is first mentioned as praedives Castelli urbis Oxencfordensis Oppidanus, 
(Ibid. vol. ii. p. 7). 

3 Chron. Monast. de Abingdon, Rolls Series, vol. ii. p. 12. Appendix A, 
§ 88. 


meadow bearing the name of ' King's Mead ' to the present day * The 
chronicler puts the circumstance in a somewhat matter-of-fact way, but 
the probabilities are that it was a question of law ; and though, as has 
already been pointed out, the land under the jurisdiction of Abingdon 
Abbey, and paying tithes to it, included Hincksey, and came up to 
the borders of Oxford, there was probably much question as to the 
boundaries. Oxford, and all on the Oxford side of the Thames, 
was held by JElfgar, and what was held by ^Elfgar was so held by 
King William, or his representative whom he had placed here ; 
but the question would arise as to which of the many streams 
represented the Thames. It is very possible that Abingdon Abbey 
had gradually encroached upon the Oxfordshire side of the river 2 , 
by obtaining grants of tithes from the occupants of the Hincksey 
and Botley meadows for perhaps two or three generations, which 
would, with a favourable court, give them prima facie jurisdiction. 
Robert D'Oilgi, however, was no doubt jealous of his master's 
rights as well as his own, and would not allow a single acre to go 
undisputed ; moreover, the courts would now be less likely to 
be favourable, and the monks of Abingdon probably lost their suit ; 
but the chronicler would look upon Robert D'Oilgi as the despoiler of 
the abbey property 3 . 

While he was ill, according to the chronicler, he dreamt a dream ; 
he saw a Lady sitting on a throne, and was accused by her of 
robbing the monastery of the meadow, into which he was ordered to 
be led ; here very naughty boys brought hay and lighted it and nearly 
suffocated him and set fire to his beard ; so that he cried out in his 
agony, ' Sancta Maria ! have mercy on me, or I shall die/ His wife, 
who was lying near him, woke him, and on his narrating to her his 

1 King's Mead is marked on some maps as lying to the west of Great 
Sconce Mead, and to the south of Oseney mead. It possibly had its name from 
the circumstance that it was adjudged at this time to belong to the king. Amongst 
the bad deeds of Abbot Ethelelm, above referred to, the compiler of the treatise 
De Abbatibus Abbendonia records that he sent to Normandy for his relations, 
and conferred on them property belonging to the Church, amongst which was 
4 pratum juxta Oxoniam ' (Chron. Mon. Ab. ii. p. 284). The meadow has however 
an after-history as regards Abingdon, but it belongs to the next century. 

2 The case of Bere Meadow, between two streams of the Thames, a little to the 
south of Oxford, already referred to {ante, p. 169), was probably similar in character ; 
the chief point in the contention on that occasion being the boundary of the county 
which determined the jurisdiction of the Abbey at this point. 

3 It is very probable that the determination of the shire boundary took place at 
this time and that the westermost of all the streams was made the shire ditch, so 
that all the meadows between the shire ditch on the west and the Castle Mill 
stream on the east were adjudged to be on the Oxfordshire side and to belong to 
the crown. 


dream, she urged him to go to Abingdon and restore the meadow. 
To Abingdon, therefore, the chronicler says, he caused his men to row 
him {ad Abbendoniam eum navigare fecit), and there before the altar he 
made satisfaction. It is only an incidental note introduced, but it is 
valuable as an illustration of the custom so generally prevalent of using 
the rivers for locomotion rather than the roads. Many circumstances 
point to this frequent use, and, amongst others, the references in the 
Abingdon Chronicle to the revenue which the monks obtained from 
tolls taken on the river \ 

At the same time, the frequent use of the river way must not be 
taken to exclude the existence of roads. It has already been pointed 
out that there was a ford across the main stream of the River Thames, 
and probably a causeway across the meadows leading from the south 
gate of Oxford, by which means Abingdon could be reached, follow- 
ing the right bank of the river, through Kennington, and beneath 
Bagley 2 . But there was probably also in these times something of 
a causeway across the meadows, and fords across the streams leading 
out towards the west of Oxford beyond the Castle. The road no 
doubt passed by Botley, where there was a mill, in the same place as 
there is now 3 , as is proved by the double streams, and from Botley the 
old road no doubt passed over the hill in a line to the south of the 
present road (which dates only from the present century), close beneath 

1 In the time of Abbot Ordric (c. 1060) the more direct stream of the Thames, 
either by negligence or of set purpose, was allowed to become blocked up. The 
loop which winds round to the west of the large meadow was kept clear, and the 
consequence was that the Oxford boatmen, nam illorum navigium saepius transi- 
tion illic habebat, in order to avoid the delay and toil of getting through the weeds 
and mud, and when the water was low to prevent direct stoppage, agreed to pay 
one hundred herrings per boat by way of toll {Chron. Mon. Ab. vol. i. p. 481). In 
the year 1 1 1 1 the right to this toll was disputed, but it was settled in favour of 
the abbey ; Ibid. vol. ii. p. 1 ig. 

2 See ante, p. 121. There is some reason for supposing that by this time a bridge 
of some kind may have been erected across the main stream. See post cap. xi 
in reference to the Bridges. 

3 There was a law-suit with the men of ' Seacourt ' (or Seckworth as it is some- 
times written, see ante, p. 69), about this mill in 1089. The chronicler introduces 
it curiously by saying that it happened the year that Rochester was besieged by 
Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. It would appear that the men of ' Sevecurda ' unlawfully 
'broke the water course which they commonly call lacche'' (whence no doubt our 
word lasher, e.g. lacher). It was settled by 10s. being paid to the Abbot of Abing- 
don, and two ora to be paid each year to the miller. It is an early instance of 
suits respecting the right of keeping up water for mills, etc., though possibly the water 
was causing damage to the houses and gardens of Seacourt, which bordered on 
what is known as the Shire ditch ; the occupants must have let the water flow off 
into the ditches and meadows lying on the north of the Seven-bridge road. 
Chron. Mon. Ab. vol. ii. p. 17. 


Chorley Hurst \ Thence access would be afforded to Bayworth or 
Wootton 2 , and so render Abingdon more accessible, perhaps, by this 
route from the Castle at the extreme western end of Oxford than by 
the southern road. 

The policy of the Conqueror was to support the Church, and though 
there was a roughness about the way in which -he did so, and perhaps 
not much real piety, no doubt many of his followers were religious men 
and gave of their substance out of real religious motives to the provision 
and support of churches, and of monasteries to supply the churches 
with clergy. The annalist in the Abingdon Chronicle, after recount- 
ing that on his arrival at Abingdon, whither he went in consequence 
of his dream, he made satisfaction before the altar, and gave, besides 
certain rents, one hundred pounds towards the rebuilding of the 
monastery, proceeds: — 

'But not only did he do so much towards the building of the 
Church of S. Mary at Abingdon, but he also repaired at his own cost 
other Parish Churches which were in a ruinous state (alias par ochianas 
ecclesias diruias) that is to say, both within the walls of Oxford and 

' For, whereas before his dream he was the plunderer of Churches, 
and of the poor, so afterwards he became the restorer of Churches, 
and a benefactor to the poor, and the doer of many good deeds. 
Amongst other things the great bridge on the northern side (ad septen- 
trionalem plagam s ) of Oxford was built by him. He died in the 
month of September 4 , and was honourably buried within the presby- 
tery 5 at Abingdon, on the north side. The body of his wife lies buried 
on his left side V 

In respect of Robert D'Oilgi being a builder of churches, it has 
already been noticed that he built S. George's within the Castle, and 
S. Mary Magdalen without the North-gate, and it will be shown later 
on, in dealing with certain entries in the Domesday Survey, that 
he probably also built S. Michael's Church at the North-gate of 

1 The old line of road to within the last few years was very easily traceable, though 
for some distance enclosed. In walking along it, it was difficult to realize that it 
was at the beginning of the century the main coach road to the west from Oxford, 
just as it is difficult to realize that the narrow and steep road over Shotover Hill 
was once the main coach road to the east from Oxford. 

2 These places, since they gave their names to the manors, were probably less 
isolated from the roads of the district than they are now. 

3 The word plaga is perhaps used from the circumstance that Oxford on its 
three sides was surrounded by water, which was its chief protection. 

* The year is not given, but it must have been about 1090. 

5 In Capitulo Abendonejzsi : this is commonly translated Chapter House ; but 
it is more probably meant for in capitio, i.e. the caput ecclesiae, or the place 
where the Altar stands, and it is therefore here so translated. 

6 Chrdn. Mon. Ad. vol. ii. p. 14. Appendix A, § 89. 


Oxford, and S. Peter's Church some little way within the East-gate. 
Before the advent of Robert D'Oilgi, there is the definite record only 
of the existence of one parish church in Oxford, namely, S. Martin's, 
belonging to Abingdon, and therefore it is not certain what is meant 
by repairing at his own cost ' parish churches which were in a ruinous 
state, both within and without the town ' : still the Domesday book 
shows that at the time the Survey was taken, besides S. Michael's 
and S. Peter's, S. Mary's Church was in existence, and also a church 
belonging to Ensham (i.e. S. Ebbe's). These two latter may possibly 
have been built in Eadward the Confessor's time, and so, with 
S. Martin's, suffered, when the mob from the north devastated Oxford ; 
or, after all, it may perhaps only be a loose way of writing to enhance 
the merits of the converted robber of the land which had belonged 
to the abbey, and which now he had restored. 

While detailing the benefits apparently accruing to the ecclesias- 
tical status of Oxford from the appointment of Robert D'Oilgi, it must 
be added in passing, that the seat of the Bishop of the diocese, which 
had hitherto been at Dorchester, and therefore in the neighbourhood 
of Oxford, was now removed to Lincoln. It is not easy altogether to 
assign the motives of the change. Personally, Remigius, with his 
Norman notions, may not have cared for the low-lying district on the 
north bank of the Thames, and he could not well, perhaps, have 
built his palace and cathedral on Sinodun Hill, on the bank opposite, 
since this was in the diocese of Salisbury. But more probably his 
position of Bishop was looked upon from a political point of view ; 
and so the city of Lincoln, which had been an important centre of the 
old Dane law, and which was in the midst of a district still rebel in its 
disposition, would be an important post, as much for a Bishop's palace 
as for a castle. Remigius was evidently much trusted by the Con- 
queror, and his presence in the north would be a great safeguard to 
begin with, and his power would be all the greater if he could wield 
the ecclesiastical arm as well as the civil 1 . The date of the translation 
need not create the difficulty which it is supposed to do from various 

1 There is probably but very little reason for the scandal that Remigius bought 
the bishoprick, or, as William of Malmesbury {Gesta Pontificum, Rolls Series, 
p. 312) puts the matter, that he came to England to help William on the condition 
that, if successful, the Duke should reward him with a bishoprick ; no doubt the 
monk of Fecamp was warm in the Duke's cause, and his name appears in the 
somewhat doubtful list of gifts to Duke William, as the donor of one ship. (De 
navibus per Magnates Normanniae provisis pro passagio. MS. Bodl. e Mus. 93.) 
It is, however, probable that William promoted him, quite as much with a view 
to the services which he anticipated that his new position would enable Remigius 
to render in future, as with that of recompensing him for his services in the past. 


historians assigning different dates. Such a matter is not done in a 
day ; there are various stages, and historians date from one or other 
of these stages according to their judgment. The earliest document 
is a charter of William the Conqueror, beginning as follows : 

' William, King of the English to T. 1 sheriff, and all the sheriffs of 
the episcopate of Bishop Remigius, greeting, know that I have trans- 
lated the see of the Bishopric of Dorchester to the city of Lincoln, by 
the authority and with the counsel of Pope Alexander [i. e. Alexander 
II. 1061-1073] and of his legates; also of Archbishop L[anfranc], and 
of other Bishops of my kingdom ; and that 1 have given sufficient land 
there, free and quit of all customary payments, for building therein a 
mother church of the whole diocese, with residences, etc., adjoining 2 .' 

Remigius had succeeded to Dorchester in 1067, but it was not 
till after 1070 3 , at least, that the removal was set about. It perhaps 
could scarcely be said to be completed till the consecration of the new 
Cathedral, which took place a few days after the death of Remigius, 
in May 1092. It has not been observed that Remigius signed any 
charters as Bishop of Lincoln, but the Domesday Survey recognises 
Lincoln as the seat of the bishopric, and not Dorchester 4 . The 
translation of the see, however, would perhaps have affected the town 
of Oxford but little. 

As already pointed out, though the Canons of S. Frideswide occur 
in the Survey as possessing property, they seem to show no sign of 
activity at all. It can scarcely be altogether due to their work not 
being recorded. 

One incidental detail may perhaps be briefly alluded to in con- 
nection with the religious aspect of the place at this time. It seems 

1 Probably Turchil, who in the Domesday Survey is styled Vice-comes. He was 
sheriff of Warwickshire. 

2 The charter is preserved as an ' inspeximus ' amongst the Patent Rolls 8th Hen. 
VI. Part II. memb. 10. Other copies are preserved in other charters, and it is 
printed in Dugdale's Monasticon, ed. 1846, vol. viii. p. 1269. There are only two 
signatures of witnesses, viz. L. Archbishop and E. Sheriff. The first must be Arch- 

| bishop Lanfranc, the second may be Eadward the sheriff (?) of Oxfordshire. The date 
of this charter may be said to be limited between Aug. 29, 1070, when Lanfranc 
was appointed and (probably) April 21, 1073, when Pope Alexander died. 
Appendix A, § 90. 

3 William of Malmesbury gives what purports to be an official document con- 
I taining the list of the Bishops present at the consecration of Archbishop Lanfranc, 

Aug 29, 1070 ; in it occurs, ' Remigius Dorcensis sive Lincolniensis? Gesta Ponti- 
Jicum, Rolls Series, 1870, p. 39. 

4 ' Residuam dimidiam carucatae terrae habuit et habet Sancta Maria de Lincolia 
in qua nunc est episcopatus.' Domesday Survey, fol. 336a, col. I. Remigius too is 
always cited as Bishop of Lincoln, e.g. Episcopus Lincolniensis tenet Dorchecestre 
(fol. 155 a^col. 2). 


that two monks had gone forth from the Monastery at Evesham to 
beg for money for restoring their church, and Oxford, then, perhaps, 
as it is now, was thought to be a likely place in which to obtain sub- 
scriptions ; and it seems, in order to evoke the piety of subscribers, they 
carried with them the relics of S. Egwin. The chronicler writes : — 

4 When the aforesaid brothers, being sustained by the relics of 
S. Egwin, had with rejoicing reached Oxford, and were preaching the 
word ; and while the people were looking on, a certain man of great 
faith, as it afterwards appeared, humbly approached the shrine of 
S. Egwin amongst the others, and most devoutly said three prayers in 
presence of the people, and at each prayer putting his hand into his 
pouch, and taking thence a treble offering, he made the same to God's 
Saint 1 .' 

It would appear a thief was present, and through the intervention 
of the Saint he was detected in robbing the good man who was intent 
in his prayers. It seems also, by the good offices of the Saint, the 
thief, who was condemned to die in consequence of the discovery, was 
pardoned. The little story is graphically told, and as the date is 
fixed to the time of Abbot Agelwin of Evesham, who died in 1086, 
under whose direction the two monks went forth, with the relics, it 
affords just a glimmer of the religious life of the period, though it does 
not add much to our information ; nothing is told us as to where the 
two monks resided when they honoured Oxford with the exhibition 
of S. Egwin's relics. 

Lastly, it will be observed that Robert D'Oilgi is recorded to have 
built a bridge in Oxford. Among works of piety this has always 
ranked very high with the monastic writers, and hence it is that 
D'Oilgi's building of abridge follows on after his restoring of churches, 
and benefactions to the poor. It was a monk of Abingdon, some 
three hundred and fifty years afterwards, who, when in the early part 
of Henry VI's reign a Guild of Abingdon had erected the bridge 
over the stream, hitherto only forded, and subject to all the dangers 
of fords, wrote : — 

* Of alle Werkys in this Worlde that ever were wrought 

Holy Chirche is chefe. . . . 
Another blissed besines is brigges to make, 

There that the pepul may not passe after greet showres, 
Dole it is to draw a deed body oute of a lake 

That was fulled in a fount stoon, and a Felow of oures V 

1 Chronicon Abbatiac de Evesham, Rolls Series, 1863, p. 55. Appendix A, § 91. 

2 The autograph of the poem, consisting of a hundred lines, is preserved framed 
in the Hall of Christ's Hospital, Abingdon. The lines are now difficult to deci- 
pher, having been written, as the colophon states, in the 36th Henry VI. 1448. The 


There can be no doubt but that the bridge which is still called High 
or Hythe 1 Bridge is the one meant in the record. There is no work 
of R. D'Oilgi's time visible, but the same site must have been preserved 
during the successive rebuildings. By this means the road along the 
north of Oxford was connected with the west, and indeed it was, prob- 
ably, the only outlet in this direction 2 . The peculiar position of the 
Castle at Oxford must be taken into account in judging of the roads 
and streets. In most towns the Castle occupies, if not a central, at least 
the highest position ; here it occupies almost the lowest. The ascent 
of Queen Street to the high level at Carfax must have been dangerous 
to the successful defence of the Castle, and therefore, lest the town were 
taken by the enemy, no regular communication would in an ordinary way 
be provided from the town into the Castle. That there was a bridge 
across the deep ditches of the Castle, leading from the town, some- 
where about Castle Street, may be surmised, as there appear traces of 
it on the later maps, but such a bridge would be a small one of wood, 
and easily destroyed during times of siege, if necessary. The site had 
been chosen when the Danish incursions were mainly effected by 
means of the rivers, and therefore a spot had to be chosen which 
would command the streams. When D'Oilgi came, it must have been 
somewhat against his will that he found himself obliged to accept the 
position. It would have cost too much to have erected a new castle 
at Carfax, and it would have caused much dissatisfaction to the 
citizens and owners, in consequence of the destruction of houses which 
it would have entailed. On the whole, then, it must be assumed that he 
made the old Castle, of the tenth century, as secure as he could, modify- 
ing it to suit the requirements of the time rather than build another, and 
still keeping it to guard the course of the Thames, but leaving no en- 
trance into the town of Oxford from this side. All persons coming 
across the meadows from the west, and all the goods disembarked 
at the £ Hythe ' from the barges and boats, would have to be taken in 
at the north gate of the town, the road passing along the north bank 
of the city ditch, and following, probably, exactly the same course 
as that followed by George Street at the present day. 

last two lines of the extract may be interpreted : 'Sad it is to drag out of a pool 
of water a dead body which had been once dipped in the Font, and one of our 
community,' referring evidently to what sometimes happened in flood times. 

1 Saxon Hyth ; a small port or haven at which boats could land ; in this case 
it would have more the signification of a wharf. 
1 2 West gate was a small gate at the western end of the street running along the 
I inside of the southern wall of the city : it probably led to the Castle Mill and the 
j meadows beyond and was more of a postern than a city gate. 


There would have been naturally an entrance into the Castle on the 
west. It is impossible, however, to determine exactly the site of the 
bridge and gates. We have no remains, and the little evidence which 
we possess in the accounts of the works done at the Castle, in the 
thirteenth and fourteenth century, proves nothing respecting the 
arrangement in the eleventh ; while the earliest plans we possess date 
only back to the sixteenth century, and these from their perspective 
drawing are not to be depended on for laying down the lines very 
accurately upon a modern map 1 . 

1 A striking plan is contained in Agas' map of Oxford, dated 1578 ; and a plan 
of the castle precincts is in the possession of the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church. 
This is also of the time of Queen Elizabeth, and is engraved in Skelton's Oxonia 
Antiqua Restaurata, 1843, PL 127. In the new Ordnance Survey of ten feet to 
the mile, dotted lines representing the supposed line of the Castle ditch are 
inserted. As also the supposed sites of the western and eastern bridge. They 
appear however to be based upon the conjectural plan given in King's Vestiges of 
Oxford Castle. 


The Description of Oxford in 1086, as given in 
the Domesday Survey. 

Towards the close of the eleventh century a document far more 
full and complete as to details than any previous document which has 
been yet noted, crowns the collections of the materials on which the 
early history of the city of Oxford rests. It is called — for what reason 
has not been satisfactorily ascertained — 'The Domesday Survey/ 
There is no other document to be compared with it, which, being of 
such an early date, gives so close an insight into the status of the king- 
dom, or is so valuable from the historical point of view. While, how- 
ever, on the one hand it gives so much information, it creates on the 
other so great a desire for more, that it may be said in some respects 
to be disappointing ; for there are so many points on which a very few 
additional words or facts would have given a much greater importance 
and value to the rest. If, for instance, it had told us the exact popu- 
lation of Oxford, giving some summary of the occupations, or even 
stating the number of actual burgesses, it would have cleared up many 
doubts. In the thousands of manors, representing our country villages, 
we have minute descriptions of how many servi, how many villani, 
how many bordarii, and how many ploughs they each had ; but in the 
towns, where similar information would be more interesting, there it is 
absolutely wanting. So again the number of churches even is left 
very doubtful, and only to be approximately arrived at by incidental allu- 
sions ; nor is there a single reference to a public building of any kind 
in this city, not even to the Castle. The work is compiled in so per- 
functory a manner, that it amounts only to a schedule of the sources 
of taxation, yet at the same time the data actually given afford material 
from which much may be deduced, throwing light upon the extent 
and state of Oxford at this period. 

The Domesday Survey has been the subject of much criticism, but 
beyond the internal evidence which the work itself affords of its origin 
and purpose, the only direct and authoritative account we have is con- 
tained in an addition to the one Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which was 
continued to this period, namely, that which, as to its earlier portion, 


was probably compiled within the monastery of Peterborough. It 
runs : — 

' After this the king had a great council, and very deep speech 
with his 1 witan ' about this land, how it was peopled, or by what 
men ; then sent his men over all England, into every shire, and 
caused to be ascertained how many hundred hides were in the shire, or 
what land the king himself had, and cattle within the land, or what 
dues he ought to have, in twelve months, from the shire. Also he 
caused to be written how much land his archbishops had, and his 
suffragan bishops, and his abbots, and his earls ; and — though I may 
narrate somewhat prolixly — what or how much each man had who was 
a holder of land in England, in land, or in cattle, and how much money 
it might be worth. So very narrowly he caused it to be traced out, 
that there was not one single hide, nor one yard of land, nor even — it 
is shame to tell, though it seemed to him no shame to do — an ox, nor 
a cow, nor a swine, was left, that was not set down in his writ. And 
all the writings were brought to him afterwards 1 .' 

On these few words later writers have built theories, and in ex- 
panding the statements there have arisen, naturally, many discrepan- 
cies as to the date which may be ascribed to the compilation. The 
passage above quoted appears under the year 1085, and there can be 
little doubt that at this time the commission was issued. The colophon 
at the end of the second volume of the Domesday Survey corroborates 
the date, by giving that of the completion : — 

' In the year 1086 from our Lord's Incarnation, and in the twentieth 
year of William's reign, this description was made, not only of those 
three countries (i.e. Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk), but also of the others 2 / 
And as regards the part containing Oxfordshire, this date is practically 
corroborated inasmuch as under the land of Robert d'Oilgi a certain 
hide and a half in ' Ludewelle ' (i.e. Ledwell, a hamlet of Sandford in 
North Oxfordshire), is recorded to have been given by the king to him 
at the siege of S. Suzanne, in Maine s . This siege was commenced 
in 1083, and was not concluded till 1085 4 . With respect to the sur- 
vey of the oxen, cows, and swine, referred to by the chronicler (if it 

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle E, sub anno, 1085. Appendix A, § 92. There is an 
incidental reference in the same Chronicle to the Survey under the year 1087 ; in 
summing up the events of William's life the chronicler says ' He reigned over 
England, and by his sagacity so thoroughly surveyed it that there was not a hide 
of land within England, that he knew not who had it, or what it was worth, and 
afterwards set it in his writ.' 

2 Domesday Survey, 181 6, vol. ii. p. 450. The words are 'Anno millesimo octo- 
gesimo sexto ab incarnatione Domini, vigesimo vero regni Willelmi facta est ista 
descriptio, non solum per hos tres comitatus sed etiam per alios.' 

3 Domesday Survey, folio 185 b. 

4 Orderic Vital, Bk. VII. cap. 8 (10). Orderic, however, implies that the siege 
was protracted to four years. 


was carried out in Oxfordshire), no copy has, unfortunately, been 
handed down, and we are therefore dependant on the abstract in the 
Liber de Wintonia, or the Exchequer Domesday as it is commonly 
called 1 . 

The first page relating to Oxfordshire (that is, the recto of folio 154 
of the first volume) is given in the present work in facsimile, and 
therefore needs no description; further, a transcript of the same (in 
extended Latin) will be found in the Appendix ; it only remains there- 
fore here to give the whole in English, and for the sake of convenience 
this is given in a tabular form, but the wording of the original is 
preserved as closely as the tabulation will allow. 

IN THE TIME OF King Edward Oxford paid to the King for toll 
and gable and all other customs yearly £20 

and six sextaries of honey. 

But to Earl Algar £10 

in addition to the- Mill which he had within the city. 
When the King went on expedition 20 burgesses went with him for all 
others, or they gave ^20 to the King that all might be free. 

NOW Oxford pays by tale of twenty [pence] in the ora ^60 

In the town, as well within the wall as without, there are 243 houses 
paying geld, and besides these there are 478 2 so waste and destroyed 
that they cannot pay the geld. 

s. d. 

The King has 20 mural mansions paying 13 io. 3 Which were Earl Algar 's, 
then and now in Time of K. Edwd. 

and he has 1 mansion „ o 6. Belonging to Shipton 
and another 1 „ „ o 4. Belonging to Bloxham 

and a third 1 „ „ 2 6. Belonging to Risborough 

and 2 others „ o 4. Belonging to Tuiford 4 

(one of these is waste). 
Wherefore they are called mural mansions, because if there shall 
be need, and t he King command it, they shall repair the walls. 
To the lands which Earl Alberic held belong 1 Church and 3 mansions : 
of these 2 mansions paying 2 4 lie to the Gh. of S. Mary 
„ 1 „ ,,50 lies to Bureford 

To the lands which Earl W. held, 

belong 9 mansions paying 7 o. Three are waste 

Abp. of Canterbury has 7 „ „ 3 2. Four are waste 

Bp. of Winchester has 9 „ ,,52. Three are waste 

Bp. of Bayeux has 18 „ ,,134. Four are waste 

1 For some of the western counties, however, it seems the first copy has been 
preserved in the Exon Domesday belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter 
Cathedral (Domesday ed. 181 6, vol. iv. p. 1) and for portions of Eastern counties 
in the Inquisitio Eliensis {Ibid. p. 495). 
• 2 In the original, £ Five hundred houses, save twenty-two.' 

3 In the original ' Fourteen shillings save twopence.' 

* In the original ' Buckinghamshire ' is added. 


s . 



Bp. of Lincoln has 30 mansions paying 



Sixteen are waste 

Bp. of Coutances has 2 




Bp. of Hereford has 3 



Onp is wastp 

Abbeyof S.Edmund's has 1 





Belonging to Tainton 

Abbey of Abingdon has 14 




Eiffht arp wasfp 

Abbey of Eglesham has 13 





Seven are waste 

and 1 church 

Earl of Moreton has 10 




Nine are waste 

Earl Hugh has 7 




Four are waste 

Earl of Evreux has 1 





One is waste 

Henry of Ferieres has 2 





William Pevrel has 4 






Two are waste 

Edward the Sheriff 2 





Ernulf of Hesding 3 





One is waste 

Berengar of Todeni 1 





Milo Crespin 2 





Richard de Curci 2 





Robert D'Oilgi 12 





Four are waste 

Roger of Ivri 15 





Six are waste 

Rannulf Flammard 1 





Wido of Reinbodcurth 2 





Walter Gifard 17 





Seven are waste 

The predecessor of Walter had one of these, of the gift of K. Edward, 
of 8 virgates which paid customary dues in Time of K. Edward. 
Jernio has 1 mansion paying o 6 belonging to Hamtone 

The son of Manasses 1 „ ,,04,, to Blecesdone 

All these afore written hold the aforenamed mansions free because they 
repair the wall. All the mansions which are called mural were in Time of 
King Edward free from all customary payment except for expedition and 
repairing the wall. 

mansions paying 4 4 

The Priests of S. Michael's 2 
The Canons of S. Frideswide 1 5 
Coleman had while he lived 3 
William has 
Wluui the Fisherman 
Alwin has 

Harding and Leveva 
Ailric has 

Another Segrim 






o. Eight are waste 

1. Three are waste 

o. Four are waste 









mansion paying 



Waste. Paid T.K.E. xod. 














Brictred and Derman 


?> j> 











Alwin the Priest 


house „ 











mansion „ 



Waste, and yet if there be 

need he shall repair the wall. 

Swetman the Moneyer 


house free 





mansion paying 









» » 



- These five pay nothing. 







J5 » 




2 mural mnsns. „ 



Another Swetman 


free mansion „ 



for the same service. 

Sawold has 

9 mansions „ 



Six are waste. 



house „ 



In which he resides free.on 

account [of repairing] the wall. 



houses free „ 



One is waste. 



house free „ 



For repairing the wall, 

and if when there is need, the wall is not repaired by him who ought to 
do it, he shall either forfeit forty shillings to the King or lose his house. 
All Burgesses of Oxford have common of pasture without the wall, which 
pays 6s. Sd. 1 

After this follows the list of the ' holders of Land in Oxfordshire/ 
There are, however, later on, under the Survey of Oxfordshire, two 
other passages relating to Oxford, which it will be convenient to give 
here, under the heading ' No. XXVIII, the land of Robert de Oilgi/ 
and they run as follows : — 

4 The same Robert has in Oxford, forty-two houses let to tenants 
(domos hospitatas) as well within as without the wall. Of these 
1 6 . . . . pay geld and gable, 
the rest pay neither, on account of poverty they cannot ; 
and he has 8 mansions waste 

and thirty acres of meadow near the wall, and a mill of ios. 
The whole is worth £3. 
And for one manor he holds with the benefice of S. Peter .... 2 

' The Church of S. Peter of Oxeneford holds of Robert 2 hydes in Holy- 
well (Halhvelle). Land one carucate. There is one plough and a half 

1 Domesday Survey, folio 154 a, cols. 1 and 2. See Frontispiece. Also Appendix 
A, § 93. 

2 The sentence is incomplete, a blank space being left vacant in the MS. for 
another line to be filled in, which was not done. 


there, and twenty-three men having gardens (hortulos). There are 40 acres 
meadow there. It was worth 20s. , it is now [worth] 4.0s. This land has 
not paid tax or rendered any dues V 

It is not to be ascertained for certain whether the references to the 
status and value of property, or customary payments, in the Time of 
King Eadward, are derived from oral testimony given by jurors who 
were cited to give evidence, or from written testimony, that is from 
some previous 'Domesday' already in existence, or from different 
geld-rolls. The question is one of some interest ; for, if there was 
a definite record before them, the references would probably belong to 
some one ascertainable date ; if from oral evidence, they would vary 
according to the ages or extent of the memories of the jurors, or other 
incidental circumstances, which might cause the state of things as they 
existed in the early years of Eadward's reign, to be recorded in one in- 
stance, and that as they existed at the close of his long reign of twenty- 
three years in another. The probabilities are, that in some cases the 
evidence was taken in one way, in others another way, but the results 
entered upon the record without any distinction. It may be taken 
as tolerably certain that, taken as a whole, T. R. E. does not represent 
the state of things at King Eadward's death, in January 1066. The 
opening paragraph, for instance, in reference to Oxford, refers to the 
state of things somewhere between 1057 and 1062, since Earl ^Elfgar 
is named as the earl to whom the dues were paid, and we are, in con- 
sequence, left much in the dark as to whether Earl Eadwin succeeded 
him. Undoubtedly, on the next page of the Survey we read that 
' from the lands of Earl Eadwin in Oxfordshire, and in Warwickshire, 
the king has one hundred pounds and one hundred shillings 2 / but 
this perhaps is not absolute proof that Eadwin was recognized Earl 
over this district. We find that nearly the whole of the property of 
Earl iElfgar throughout the country, and it was very large, is confis- 
cated to the king's use, and in Oxford the customs due both to the 
King and Earl are merged into one. So far as direct annual money pay- 
ment went the amount assessed appears here to have been doubled by 
William, that is, sixty instead of thirty pounds was to be paid annually 3 . 

1 Domesday Survey, folio 158 a and 158 b, Appendix A, § 94. 

2 Under the conjoined manors of Bloxham and Adderbury we find 'Soca duorum 
hundredorum pertinet huic manerio; Edwinus comes tenuit hoc manerium' and a 
few paragraphs later, 1 De terra Edwini Comitis in Oxeneford [scire] et in Warwic- 
cire, habet rex c libras et c solidos.' Domesday, fol. 154b, col. 2. 

3 The Abingdon Chronicle helps us to the value of the ora. In giving an 
account of the foundation of the chapel of Kingston Bagpuiz in the reign of 
William Rufus, the chronicler refers to a payment of ' duas oras, i.e. XXXII dena- 


At the same time the sixty sextaries 1 of honey appear to have been fore- 
gone as a customary payment; as to the provision for twenty bur- 
gesses to go on ' expedition ' for all the rest nothing is said, possibly all 
were now held liable. The Mill which Earl ^Elfgar held is described 
as ' infra civitatem' but it was probably the Castle Mill, and so went 
to the crown, though it is not mentioned ; it is not likely to have been 
left in the hands of the town, nor is there any reference to it being 
given to S. George's or any other religious foundation. 

The next entry is an important statistical item, namely, the number 
of houses. The word domus is used, but throughout the detailed 
account of the possessors the word mansio is used. For all statistical 
purposes, as will be shown presently, the words here mean practically 
the same thing. The total number then is 243, and though the details 
of the Survey will not show how the whole number is made up, all but 
eleven are accounted for. It will be observed by the tabulated list of 
the mansions, that they are thus distributed : — 


The King has 25 of which 1 

Earls Alberic and W. had 12 „ „ 3 

The Archbishop and five Bishops . . . . 69 „ „ 28 

Three Abbeys 28 „ „ 15 

Seventeen (supposed) followers of the Conqueror, &c. 83 „ „ 34 

Priests and Canons in Oxford 18 „ „ 9 

Thirty-seven (supposed) citizens of Oxford . . 62 „ „ 17 

297 107 

Deducting the vastae from the others, we have remaining 190, under the 
survey of Oxford. Besides these Robert D'Oilgi is returned as respon- 
sible for 42 houses 2 in addition to the eight he holds, returned as vastae, 
and this brings the total to 232 ; leaving eleven to be accounted for to 

rios {Chron. Mon. Ab. ii. p. 30, 121). Sixteen pennies therefore was the normal 
value ; but the payment from Oxford was to be made in the full value, i.e. of 20 
pennies in the ora. As the ora was the twelfth part of the pound, the result would 
be the payment of 240 pence, the standard which we still retain. 

1 The Sextary seems to have varied in capacity, and was applied to wine, oil, 
honey, and even dry products: it is often qualified, e.g. in Gloucester 'XII Sex- 
taria mellis ad mensuram ejusdem Burgi ' (Domesday, fol. 162 a). In another place in 
the same country it is ' ad mensuram regis.' {Ibid. fol. 1 66 a). Kelham quotes Selden 
as computing the measure in respect of honey to be about one quart and weighing 
four pounds. But authors differ, the result varying from a pint to a gallon. 

2 Although several of Robert D'Oilgi's houses are returned as not being able to 
pay, still they are not returned as vastae, and would therefore be reckoned as liable. 
It is quite possible he held additional houses in the manor of Holywell, i.e. 'the 
manor held with S. Peter's,' but the line, as pointed out, is wanting ; and these 
houses might be included in the 243 although without the wall. 



bring the total up to 243 1 , Of the remaining 371 returned as vastae 
we have no information at all given us as to whom they belonged. 

The summary of the houses, as already said, would have been much 
more valuable if the number of the population had been added, and in 
all probability it was ascertained, or at least readily ascertainable. As 
it is, we are left to base the population of Oxford on a guess of the 
average number of occupants of each house compared with what now 
exists ; and to do this so many considerations have to be taken into 
account that it is very difficult to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion. 
From the sixteenth century onwards, there has been a tendency to in- 
crease not only the area but the height of our town houses, that is, 
there would be room for a larger number of occupants in each house; 
concurrently, however, with this increase of space there has been a 
demand for greater accommodation for each occupant, so that the 
extended space of each house has been thereby more than counter- 
balanced by the extended demand of the occupants. This has not 
been the case so much with the densely packed districts in the low 
lying suburbs of our larger towns, for there the occupants per house 

1 From the very short and obscure manner in which the entries under Oxford are 
made (and this has already been alluded to), it is perhaps impossible, even with 
help of corroborative data derived from entries under the several manors to discover 
the exact method on which the numbers were computed. Under two' manors in 
Berkshire, there are references to houses in Oxford (the terms hagae being used), 
and it is quite possible that they are not included at all in the computation of the 
243 under Oxfordshire. First under Estralei (i. e. Streatley) Geoffrey of Man- 
deville (whose name does not occur in the Oxford list at all) is returned as holding 
' 1 haga of \od. in Oxineford.' (Folio 62 a, col. 1.) Next under Stivetune (i.e. 
Steventon) which was held by the king we find 'Ad hoc manerium pertinuerunt 
in Oxeneford XIII hagae reddentes XII solidos et VI denarios et unum pratum de 
XX solidis. Modo homines de Hundredo dant quod Robertus de Oilgi istud tenuit 
suspicanter; [nil] aliud sciunt eo quod est in alia scira (col. 2) Domesday 57b.' 
If all of these thirteen were to be included in the list the total would be brought 
up to 245. 

Moreover there is a puzzling entry under Wallingford as follows : Rainaldus 
habet una??i acram in qua sunt XI mansurae de XXVI denarios, et pertinent in 
Eldeberie (i.e. Albury) quae est in Oxeneford. Domesday, folio 56 a, col. 2. 
Possibly the last word is meant for Oxfordshire, but it follows on after a direct 
reference to Oxenefordscire, and is distinctly written Oxeneford as if it was meant 
for the town ; ma)isurae too are seldom found except in towns ; at least it would 
be strange that so small a manor as Aldbury seems to have been, should have 
had 1 1 ??iansurae recorded ; and under Oxfordshire itself the only reference to 
Aldeberie is at folio 161 where the same Rainbald is returned as holding five hides 
there. But if the hagae are at Wallingford and belonging to Oxford, we have in 
this the converse of the circumstance recorded concerning those at Steventon. 
Also it may be added that under the Survey of Wallingford (folio 56a, col. 2) it 
is noted that Saulf of Oxford holds one haga free, and that the abbot of Abingdon 
has 'two acres on which there are 7 hagae of four shillings and they belong to 


seem to have increased ; on the other hand, in the central parts of 
towns the relative population to the houses has considerably decreased 
in consequence of buildings for commercial purposes being much 
extended and swallowing up small inhabited tenements ; and yet in 
these larger buildings there are few, if any, residents. 

But, as regards Oxford, it is very important to bear in mind, not 
only the rapid growth which the present century has seen, but also the 
character of that growth. With regard to the first point a table showing 
the number of houses and the population at the several times when 
the census was taken during this century, will convey in the clearest way 
the state of the case. The average of occupants per house is added 
in another column, and this shows the fluctuation of the population in 
respect of the houses, the ratio varying in consequence of the circum- 
stances already detailed. It has been thought well also to prefix the 
numbers, though not very reliable, given on Faden's map, which carry 
back the statistics some twelve years earlier 1 — 






1 Houses. 


















5 '4 









1821 2 








1831 2 





1 6588 



But the next point to observe is that the increase is due entirely to 
the growth on the outside of the old city wall. The returns of Faden's 
map being according to streets, they are not so available for comparison 

1 Printed on William Faden's map of Oxford, which bears date Sept. 1, 1789. 
This plan was first published by Isaac Taylor in 1750, but the copper-plates were 
purchased and various improvements made in them by Faden, bringing the infor- 
mation down to his time. It is perhaps doubtful if Faden's statistics can be relied 
upon, for it has not been ascertained whence he obtained them. As his total of houses 
is within twelve of the Government census taken twelve years later, it may be con- 
sidered to cover the same area. Yet while the houses have onry been increased by 

\ twelve, it would appear the population had increased by upwards of 2000, if his in- 
formation be correct. This discrepancy, however, it should be added, is in no way 

• due to the University returns, for it is clear Faden has not included them, and they 
have been omitted in returns extracted from the Census also of 1801. Hence also, 
for the sake of uniformity, and to avoid the anomalies arising from the census being 
sometimes taken in term time, at others not, the occupants of the Colleges have 
been deducted from the population throughout the table as well as the Colleges 
themselves from the number of houses. 

2 In the returns of 182 1 and 1 831 for some reason they have included the houses 
and population of Grandpont, on the Berkshire- side of the river, though still in the 
Parish of St. Aldate's, but they have not done so in any other of the returns. About 
70 houses and about 350 population should therefore be deducted from the total of 
those years to make the returns uniformly accurate. 



as those of the census, and therefore in the following tables the year 
1 80 1 is compared with the year 1881, thus showing a period of eighty 
years' increase. 

Within the City Wall, 1801 — 



Parishes entirely within the city wall, i. e. of 

All Saints, S. John, S. Martin, S. Mary, the 

Virgin ; according to the Census 



The portions of bordering Parishes ot b. 

Aldate, S. Ebbe, S. Michael, S. Peter in the 

East, and S. Peter le Bailey, within the walls ; 

computed at 






Without the City Wall, 1801— 

Parishes entirely without the city wall, i.e. 

r\f TTr*h7\x7pll ^ Marv Ma crdalpn ^ Hilps: S 
ui jnuiywcii, 0. nidi y 1vjLd.gud.1c11, o. vjiico, v_» . 

Thomas and S Clpmpnt * • nrrnrdinc to the 



Remaining portions of Parishes of S. Aldate, 

S. Ebbe, S. Michael, S. Peter in the East, 

and S. Peter le Bailey ; computed at 




1 141 


TIT* j. 7 ■ j. J r<'j. TIT I J no 

Within the City Wall, 1881 — 

Parishps pntirplv within thp ritv wall i p of 

JL Cll lOllV^O V11L11 J VV1L111U LlLy Vvd.ll, 1. V* • Ul 

All Saints, S. John, S. Martin, and S. Mary 

the Virgin j according to the Census , • 



Portions of Parkhps of S Aldafp S Fhhp S 

Michael, S. Peter in the Kast, and S. Peter 

If* TfollpV Within f*V»P wall • mwhiifp/1 nf 

*>- X-Fdlit-jj VvlLlllll LUC Weill j LUfflVLilCll Lib • 




Without the City Wall, 1881— 

Parishes entirely without the city wall, i. e. 

Holywell, S. Mary Magdalen, S. Giles, S. 

Thomas, and S. Clement ; according to the 



Remaining portions of Parishes of S. Aldate, 

S. Ebbe, S. Michael, S. Peter in the East, 

and S. Peter le Bailey ; computed at . 



Total 2 



1 S. Clement's parish, in the census of 1801, is given separately under the 
hundred of Bullingdon, but has been added here for the sake of uniformity. 

2 To these totals have to be added 42 Colleges and University buildings, of 
which, in 1801, 24 are reckoned, situate some within the walls and some with- 
out, with a population of 1,171 ; in 1881, 42 buildings are thus returned, with 


The results shown by this table are striking, and will illustrate what 
has been said about the difficulties which arise in attempting to obtain 
an average of occupants to a house. Within the wall, the separate 
tenements seem during the eighty years to have been actually reduced 
in number, that is, for every new house erected one at least had been 
destroyed, or for every garden or open space" covered with a new 
building at least two buildings had been merged into one ; and if the 
computation be correct, the population meanwhile within the line of 
the old city wall had decreased by over 800 l . While, on the other 
hand, the portions outside the line of the city wall had gradually 
increased till the 1000 houses of 1801 had become nearly 6000 in 
1 88 1, and the population of 6000 had become 30,000 2 . 

a population of 428, bringing up the total population of the parishes (but 
excluding the part of S. Aldate's on the Berkshire side of the river) to 34,572, 
resident in 6630 houses (i.e. 5.5). But the municipal limits of Oxford, which 
while they omit a portion of S. Giles' and S. Clement's on the one hand, and 
include an additional portion of S. Aldate's, and parts of Cowley, Headington, 
Marston, North Hincksey, and Wolvercote on the other, bring the total up to 
35,264, resident in 6788 houses (i.e. 5.3). The Parliamentary limits include the 
above, with the remainder of S. Giles' and S. Clement's, the whole of S. Aldate's, 
large portions of Cowley and Headington, besides portions of Iffley and South 
Hincksey, and make a total of 40,837 persons, resident in 7840 houses (5*2). 

1 The separation of the total number of houses given in a border parish into 
those which may be fairly reckoned within the line of the wall, and those which 
must be considered without, has been attempted by computing the apparently 
separate tenements drawn on the maps. The statistics of 1801 being compared 
with Faden's map of 1789, and those of 1881 with the new Ordnance Survey. Of 
course in such matters absolute accuracy is impossible, since in Faden's maps the 
houses are drawn in blocks, and even in the new Ordnance Survey it is impossible to 
be sure of what constitutes a house. In respect to the partitioning out of the 
population, that has been based on the houses, the ratio in the two divisions being 
kept similar to that of the general ratio in the whole parish. 

2 Bearing in mind the difficulty which has been pointed out in the previous note, 
as to differentiating in border parishes between those houses which should be reckoned 
within the walls and those which lie without, it may be useful, in order to show the 
fluctuation which has taken place, to give one or two examples from parishes wholly 
within the wall. In All Saints' parish the 88 tenements of 1801 had, in 1851, 
fallen to 84, in 1861 they rose to 91, in 1871 they fell to 69, and in 1881 decreased 
to 65. S. Martin's parish shows a tolerably steady decrease in the houses during 
the nine decades, according to the census, at the following rate, 76, 67, 76, 62, 66,. 
68, 60, 52, and 47 at which they stood in 188 1. S. Mary's has remained, on the. 
whole, tolerably stationary, the 57 houses of 1801 being represented by 53 in 1881. 
The parish of S. John', with 21 houses in 1801, was practically stationary to 1861, 

I when there were 22 houses, but in 1871 there were 31, and in 188 1, 34 houses, 
i All the parishes wholly without the wall show in the same series a considerable 
increase, and, with scarcely an exception, the increase has been uniformly gradual 
I and at an increasing rate. Notably S. Giles', the increase of which is shown by the 
j following series, beginning in 1801, i.e. 184, 256, 294, 509, 620, 860, 964, IT47, 
1 and 1602 in 1881. 



It is, however, the area comprised within the old enceinte of the 
city with which we have to deal. The area of the city in 1086 could 
not have been more extensive than that within the line of the city 
wall of the middle ages, and of this the remains are easily to be 
traced ; for all practical purposes it may be considered to be identical 
with it 1 . 

In the middle of the eleventh century, when Oxford had probably 
arrived at the zenith of its early prosperity, and before the disastrous 
incursion of 1065, we find there was a total of 721 houses, and though 
the expression is used, tam intra murum quam extra, there is no reason 
to suppose that many of the houses were then outside ; a few perhaps 
clustered round the north and east gates, and several perhaps lay 
between the south gate and the river in S. Aldate's parish, and there 
were some perhaps in the Manor of Holywell. If we allow that 7 1 of 
these were outside, we have, in comparing 1065 with 1881, area for 
area, only to compare 650 then with the 700 now; but we must take 
into account that there was a great difference in their character. Most 
buildings, no doubt, were but of four low walls and a roof; the better 
sort of but one storey, i.e. they consisted of the ' celar' and the ' solar/ 
for such is the ordinary description throughout all the documents 
relating to leases which we possess of the following century. But 
although the customs of the time with regard to the privacy, and even 
existence of sleeping apartments were different from those of our own, 
and even in well-to-do families the domestic arrangements would have 
astonished even our artizans at the present day, it is impossible to 
assign more than four persons on the average to houses such as these. 
But then, as the record tells us, 478 of them were vastae, and in all 
probability amongst these there were many which could scarcely be 
estimated more than as huts and hovels, and for these the figure four 
would be much over the mark. 

It is a misfortune that we have but little corroborative evidence of the 
number of houses and the population at different periods. The Hundred 
Rolls ought to help us, but they, like the Domesday Survey, are made 
with a purpose, and though probably a fair estimate of the population 
and the number of tenants were before the commissioners, they have 
not recorded it. Faden's map in 1789 represents the houses in blocks, 
and it is impossible to count the several tenements, but on comparing 
with this map that of Loggan, made a little more than a century 
previously (1673), we find to all appearance the number of houses still 

1 See the map. Also see post, p. 237, as to the relation of the line of 1087 with 
that of the mediaeval wall. 


less. It is not easy to count them, nor perhaps could the accuracy 
of the map be depended upon sufficiently in this respect ; but on the 
whole, a comparison points to about 700 at this date being the 
number of houses within the city walls. If, however, we go back to 
Agas' map of 1578, we shall find it difficult to count more than 450 
houses within the city wall. The small number however shown on this 
map is due no doubt in part to artistic considerations ; for as Agas has 
omitted all the houses on the south side of Broad Street, in order to 
bring into prominence the line of the city wall which existed behind 
them, so we may venture to think he has omitted several within the 
line of the city boundary whenever they interfered with the view. 
Probably also many small tenements may have been omitted by 
accident, as again several which appear as if they were single houses 
may have consisted of two or more beneath a single line of roof. 
Still, allowing for all this, there is reason to think that the houses within 
the area had probably reached their minimum early in Elizabeth's 
reign, since many colleges had been erected during the three previous 
centuries, and we know that throughout the middle ages every college 
that was founded swallowed up very many separate tenements. 

On the whole, then, if we assign a thousand occupants to the 243 
houses paying tax at the time of the Survey — that is, a rate of full four 
persons per house, we are probably overstating rather than understating 
the number ; of these most were residents within the city fortifications, 
and some few were occupying tenements outside. This number of 
course would be exclusive of the garrison, who would be housed wholly 
within the Castle precincts. 

That, besides the 245 houses, there were 478 empty or destroyed, is 
certainly a very striking fact, and even allowing for certain deductions, 
it brings vividly before us a picture of the devastation which the country 
had undergone. The circumstances attending this misfortune have 
already been referred to \ but as Oxford does not stand alone it may 
be worth while to consider those attending some other towns, where 
many of the houses are returned in Domesday as vastae. 

York, which played a more prominent part in the disturbances which 
preceded the Conquest, was in a far worse state even than Oxford. 
The record in Domesday runs — 

1 Of all the above-named mansions there are only 391 in the hands 
of the King, which are let to tenants and paying customary dues, 
and 400 which are not let and which pay the better ones a penny, 

See ante, p. 200. 



others less, and 540 mansions so void (vacuae) that they pay nothing at 
all, and 145 mansions are held by Frenchmen (francigenae) K 

But then York suffered the brunt of the insurrection when Tostig 
was expelled, besides the siege of William in 1068. 

Northampton does not seem to have suffered like Oxford. Possibly 
the town was better protected, and the mob was not allowed to pass 
within the gates ; possibly also there may have been other causes 
which prompted them suddenly to rush on to Oxford instead of stop- 
ping to devastate Northampton. Out of 292 houses, which are entered 
much after the same manner as those in the Oxford Survey, only 
thirty-six are void. Again, Exeter, which stood a siege, duly recorded 2 , 
seems to have suffered very slightly, for out of 285 there are only 
forty-eight returned as ' devastated, after the king came into England V 

In several boroughs, however, a large proportion of the houses are 
returned as vastae and the like; e.g. at Dorchester, out of a total of 
188, there were 100 penitus destructae; at Bridport, out of 120, there 
were 20 ita destitutae that they cannot pay. At Wareham, out of 285, 
there were 150 vastae ; and at Shaftesbury, out of a total of 257, there 
were 80 vastae. All these are in Dorset 4 . They do not quite reach 
the Oxford proportion, which is 66 per cent. ; but Dorchester and 
Wareham come very near to it, each with over 52 per cent. 

Various causes however are assigned for the description of vastae in 
the pages of Domesday. There were many so returned, for instance, 
at Lincoln at the time of the Survey, and in this case the commis- 
sioners explain the cause thus : — 

' Of the aforesaid mansions which were hospitatae there are now . . . 
240 vastae. ... Of the aforesaid mansions which are vastae, 166 were 
destroyed on account of [building] the castle. The remaining 74, 
rendered vastae, are without the bounds of the castle, and are so, not 
because of the oppression of the King's Sheriffs and Servants, but be- 
cause of misfortune and poverty, and ravage by fire {propter infortunium 
paupertatem et ignis exustionem) V 

1 Domesday, fol. 298 a, col. I. Here vacuae is evidently used as synonymous 
with vastae. Of the total 1331 it would seem that only 391 were in good condition. 
On what grounds the 145 additional houses which were held by Frenchmen were 
excused from paying any tax, cannot be well explained. 

2 See ante, pp. 196-8. 

3 Domesday Survey, fol. 100 a, col. 2. The mode of reference to the siege is 
certainly ingenious ; while the two circumstances, namely the slight effect of an 
important siege, recorded by all the historians, and the fact that the result is duly 
entered in the Survey, tell against the theory that the vastae in Oxford 
are attributable to William besieging the town. 

4 Domesday, fol. 75 a, col. 1. 

5 This extract shows clearly that vastae does not mean necessarily that all the 


In Gloucester 16 houses are recorded to have stood where the 
Castle stands, and 14 to be vastae, but the total of the houses is not 
given. At Huntingdon 2 1 appear to have been returned to&vasfae because 
they ' occupied the place where the Castle stood, and besides these there 
were 112 vastae for which the reasons are not given ; neither is it 
possible to calculate the total number paying ' geld.' At Cambridge 
the numbers, when added together in the ten different wards, amount to 
a total of 371, of which 55 are returned as vastae, and apparently 27 
had been destroyed for the Castle, besides several others which appear 
from various causes not to have paid rent. 

In Wallingford again, where the term haga is used instead of mansio, it 
seems that in the time of King Edward there were 276 hagae, but at the 
time of the Survey there were 1 3 less ; that is, 8 were destroyed for the 
Castle, and the remaining 7, it seems, had been appropriated rent and 
tax free, i. e. one for the Moneyer ' as long as he coins money/ and 
1 Saulf of Oxford ' had one, but we are not told why. They are not 
actually returned as vastae, but it will be observed those which were 
freed from customary dues are put in the same category as those which 
were destroyed to make way for the extension of the castle, and those 
so destroyed are at Lincoln returned as vastae. Such illustrations go 
far to show that we must take vastae in a very wide sense ; yet though 
we do so, we must not overlook that in the case of Oxford the numbers 
are very great and that the term destructae is used as well. 

Although in the summary the word domus is used for the house, 
throughout the detailed list it will be observed the word mansio is used, 
with only four exceptions. It would appear, from comparing the 
entries in other parts of the Survey, that the use of these special terms 
is purely arbitrary, and that practically the same thing is meant. It is 
possible that the ' mansio ' in the view of the compiler had a slightly 
different signification from that of the domus \ just as the word mansion 
has at the present time, and that most of the mansiones stood detached 

houses so returned were standing in ruins, but that besides several being void of 
tenants, the houses had decreased by so many since the return in King Edward's 
Time; the site of 166 houses returned as vastae had been occupied by the castle, and 
the word therefore could not mean ruinous buildings, unless indeed, just when the 
Survey was being taken these houses were one and all in the process of demo- 
lition, which is, on many grounds, improbable ; in other words, it may be said 
that the houses in ruins, etc., and those which had disappeared altogether, were 
classed in one category. 

1 Kelham, in his Domesday Illustrated, p. 267, says that ' mansio and domus 
seem to be distinguished, but wherein the difference consisted is not easy to say. 
Ellis observes, that ' in a few entries of the Survey mansiones seem to imply 
houses simply,' and quotes from Bracton on the distinction of the mansio from the 


and in their own plot of ground, whereas domi might be joined together 

and possibly in rare exceptions without any garden or private land 

attached; still the difference does not appear to be of any importance 

in estimating the number or general character of the tenements. 

It will be observed also that certain mansions which are called 

'mural' are exempted from payment, 'on account of their being 

compelled to repair the walls V At first sight, it would seem therefore 

that Oxford was surrounded by a c wall,' but there are reasons on the 

other hand to suppose that the fortifications were in a considerable 

part of earth rather than of continuous stone work, which the word 

' wall V in its ordinary acceptance, implies. Along the northern side of 

the city, which was most open to attack, from being unprotected by 

any river, and from the chief road entering Oxford on this side, 

there was no doubt a formidable line of defence; this probably 

consisted of a vallum faced with stone work on the outer side, beneath 

which a deep ditch had been excavated. The masonry was probably 

carried to the top of the vallum, and along it the soldiers could easily 

pass from one part to another during a time of siege 3 . There was 

of course a parapet, but this may have been as likely of wood as of 

stone. The chief defences, as regarded the greater part of the city, 

villa and that from the manerium (lib. v. cap. 28) in the following words — ( Mansio 
autem esse poterit constructa ex pluribus domibus ' vel una quae erit habitatio una et 
sola sine vicino? Ellis' Introduction to Domesday, 1885, vol. i. p. 243. 

Under Norwich, in the Survey, vol. ii. fol. 117a, will be found perhaps the 
best example where the distinction appears to be recognized ; but in the Oxford 
statistics there is no reason to suppose that the ' mansiones* were detailed in 
addition to the 243 domi paying geld ; this would lead to a considerable over- 
estimate of the population of Oxford at the time. 

1 The repair of the town wall was provided for by the English laws; e.g. in those 
of Athelstan the following occurs : ' And we ordain that every burh be repaired 
fourteen days after Rogation Day.' Thorpe's Laws and Institutes, 8vo, 1840 ; p. 247. 

2 The word ??iurus no doubt, as a rule, in mediaeval writings, signified a stone 
wall, and the fortifications of the Roman towns, to which it was originally applied, 
were nearly always of stone or similar material. But as appears by representations, 
e. g. on Trajan's column, the Romans adopted wooden brattishes and palisading in 
addition to the stone fortifications, and this practice continued throughout the 
Middle Ages ; so that the word murus, adopted from the Romans, may well have 
included the fortifications as a whole, and been applied when the palisades were the 
chief means of defence. Varro, it may be noted, has this passage in his treatise 
De Re Rustica (lib. i. c. 14), ' Ad Viam Salariam, in agro Crustumino, vidcre licet 
locis aliquot conjunctos aggeres cum fossis, ne flunien agris noceant aggeres qui 
faciunt (sic) sine fossd, eos quidcm vocant muros, ut in agro Reatino? This of 
course only relates to the ' dykes,' as we term them, such as we see in fen districts, 
but it shows that the word did not, even with the Romans, necessarily imply the 
existence of stone. In the Bayeux tapestry, one or two representations of the siege 
of fortified towns show the wooden palisading and the mode of attack by fire. 

3 This probably accounts for the doorways in the towers of the Castle and of 
S Michael's. See ante, p. 210, and post, p. 260. 


were the ditches and the streams, and no doubt a continuous vallum 
of earth, which in time of danger was surmounted by woodwork of 
various kinds to protect the soldiers from the arrows. So far as can 
be judged it was the usual method, and the walling was exceptional. 

It must be remembered also that Robert D'Oilgi, on his appointment 
to the governorship, is not recorded to have fortified the town, and 
though in all probability he put the existing fortification in order, 
throughout the line of enceinte, and by building S. Michael's tower over 
against the North gate he added much to the strength of this part of 
the fortification, he could not well have built a wall round the town, 
since it is not probable that in Henry the Third's time the whole work 
would have had to be done over again ; and yet the money expended 
then, implies fortifications in progress on a very extended scale. Besides 
which, it is implied by the account of the siege in Stephen's reign, 
that ditches and water were the chief means of defence, and fire the 
chief mode of attack. 

The 'mural' houses were therefore those which had to keep the 
fortifications generally in an efficient state ; and this consisted mostly 
of repairing and clearing the vallum and trench, especially the latter, 
when it was a ditch into which the water flowed ; and as the position 
of Oxford was admirably situated in respect of water, few if any of the 
ditches were likely to be dry 1 . They had also to repair the wooden 
brattishes and palisades with which the vallum was surmounted. 

Here, however, arises the question, What was the extent of this line 
of enceinte ? in other words, did the mediaeval wall, of which we possess 
sufficient remains to be certain as to its course on the three sides of 
the town (the Castle occupying the narrowed western side), follow the 
original line? The answer is, that in the absence of any traces of 
another line of fortifications, and from the natural course of things, it 
did so ; and that to all intents and purposes the area enclosed in Henry 
the Third's reign was the same as that which was enclosed in William 
the Conqueror's reign. That the later wall was built absolutely on the 
site of the old vallum throughout, is perhaps saying too much ; indeed 

1 Even the ditch above referred to along the outside of the northern wall must 
have had some water in it ; this was apparent when the new drainage works in t88o, 
which involved digging down a considerable depth in the streets, exposed a portion 
of the ditch with the black accumulation of the mud at the bottom. It was 
admirably exhibited in section at the end of Turl Street, the gravel bank sloping up 
from it and then forming a kind of terrace beneath the city wall, the foundation 
of which here proved to be nine feet thick, completing the section. The fosse 
obtained the name of the Can-ditch in the middle ages (probably the 'Canal' 
ditch or sewer), and gave its name to the street formed by the row of houses built 
between the road and the fosse, and which afterwards came to be Broad Street. 

2 3 8 


it would be improbable that it should be so ; as they would scarcely 
destroy in all cases the old fortifications till the new ones were nearly 
ready, and so they may have built the wall just within or just without 
the older line, if circumstances required it, and in one or two cases 
along the line, traces of a deep ditch have been found on the inside of 
the later line of the mediaeval wall. In Exeter College, for example, 
when they dug the foundations for the Rector's house some few years 
ago, the remains of what appeared to be an ancient ditch were reached 
just within the line of the city wall, which is here visible from the court 
at the back of the Ashmolean Museum, although the wall has been 
refaced with modern ashlar. The peculiarity especially noted was that 
considerable remains of wood, especially osiers, were found in the black 
mud at the bottom, such as might well have been thrown in when the 
ditch was filled up and the vallum destroyed, the new wall having been 
erected on the outside of the old ditch 1 . 

In considering the list of the tenants holding property in Oxford 
there are several points deserving attention. Twenty of the mansions 
seem to be directly in the kings' hands, but they had been in Earl 
^Elfgar's up to 1062, and must have passed from his successor's hands, 
whoever that was, into those of the king. Most of the houses in the 
county towns held by the tenentes in capite seem to be connected more 
or less with manors in that of the neighbouring counties ; probably all 
were originally so, but in some cases the county property was sold 
without the town house representing it, and sometimes the contrary 
may have taken place. For the purpose of attending the courts, which 
were held in the towns — which happened very frequently — in days 
before hotels existed (and when, as appears to have been the case here 
at this time, the abbey accommodation was very slight in comparison 
with what S. Frideswide, Oseney, and Rewley would have afforded 
a century or so later), it was necessary to have residences set apart for 
the lords of the manors, and also in many cases for the under-tenants 
also, when they came here on business ; and there can be little doubt 
many of these houses were specially entered upon the geld-rolls, as 
appropriated to certain manors 2 . 

1 The line of the wall appears to have been altered more than once on the north 
side of S. Michael's church ; the last time, perhaps, when the north transept was 
thrown out in the fourteenth century. The remains of an old deep ditch were found 
when digging on the site of the Ship Inn in 1883 at some sixty feet within the 
so-called Cranmer's Bastion, reckoning from the centre of the ditch to the present 
outer wall. This thirteenth century line of wall probably ran between the two, 
while the first vallum or wall must naturally have been on the south side of the ditch. 

2 The expression so frequently found oijacet or jacuit implies this. 


The five mansions next mentioned as belonging to Shipton, Blox- 
ham and Risborough 1 illustrate this; they had naturally passed to the 
king, since we find that the chief manors at these three places 
had themselves done so. As to Twyford (which like Risborough is in 
the adjoining county of Buckinghamshire) it does not seem to have 
had a distinct manor belonging to it, at least it does not occur in the 
Survey in the part relating to that county. 

Of Earl Alberic we glean but little knowledge from the historians. 
He was raised to the earldom of Northumberland soon after the murder 
of Walcher, Bishop of Durham, in 1080, but his possessions lay chiefly 
in Wiltshire and in a few midland counties. Amongst the latter is found 
Oxfordshire, in which he held Iffley (which Azor had held in the time 
of King Eadward) and Minster [Lovell]. It is to be noticed that the 
surveyors always use the word tenuit and not tenet in regard to Alberic, 
so that the earl must have been dead at the time of the Survey ; and 
as the phrase occurs more than once Modo sunt in manu Regis, it may 
be presumed he had only recently died, and that the lands had as yet 
not passed to a successor. In what way Burford was connected with 
Earl Alberic does not appear ; as it is divided into three manors, held 
respectively by the Bishop of Bayeux, by the Abbey of Abingdon, and 
by a certain Ilbod, and as the manors are underlet and no references 
given to previous holders it is perhaps hopeless to discover the connec- 
tion. Neither is there any document forthcoming which connects Earl 
Alberic with S. Mary's Church in Oxford 2 . We have simply the entry 
as it stands, but it certainly would look much as if the Earl had built 
the church and alienated two of his houses to the use of the priest 
of the church 3 . 

1 Under Riseberge, in the Buckinghamshire division of the Survey, fol. 143 b, 
col. 1, there is the following note under Terra Regis, ' Riseberge fuit villa Heraldi. 
...In hoc manerio jacet et jacuit quidam burgensis de Oxenford ; reddit 11 
solidos. It is difficult, however, to explain the exact bearing of this statement 
upon the mention of the house in the Oxford list. 

2 The words in the Survey do not directly state that he had even held S. Mary's 
Church, but there can be little doubt that this is the meaning. It will be observed 
that two of the mansions belonged to the church in Oxford, and one to the manor 
of Burford. 

3 A note in Domesday, under the lands of the Church of Coventry, may be taken 
as an illustration of the change of lands at this time, and shows also Earl Alberic 
somewhat in the light of Robert D'Oilgi: ' Huic Ecclesiae [i.e. Conventriensi] 
dedit Alwinus vicecomes Cliptone concessu regis Edwardi et filiorum suorum 
pro anima sua et testimonio comitatus. Comes Albericus hanc injuste invasit et 
ecclesiae abstulit'' (Domesday, folio 238 b, col. 2). Under the lands of Earl Alberic, 
Clipton is named with five other manors : ' Ipse comes tenuit Cliptone Alwinus vice 
comes tenuit T.R.E? At the end appears ' Hae terrae Alberici comitis sunt in 
manu Regis? but this is marked through, and instead is written, Goisfridus de Wirce 


Earl W. is no doubt intended for Earl William. Amongst the lands 
in Oxfordshire the last entry stands, £ LIX. Hae infra scriptae terrae 
sunt de feudo Willelmi Comztis 1 .' They are some thirty in number, 
chiefly small portions of land, many of a single hyde and sometimes 
less. This is sufficient to account for the nine mansions held in 
Oxford. The person referred to must be William Fitz Osbern, who 
played an important part in the history of the Norman Conquest. One 
of the first earldoms to which King William appointed was that of 
Hereford, and though William Fitz Osbern held it till the time of his 
death in 107 1, there does not seem to be a trace of his name in the 
pages of Domesday among any of the returns belonging to that district. 
In fact the only county where his name appears as holding any exten- 
sive property is Oxfordshire, and that, as already pointed out, is in 
detached portions, scattered throughout the district. 

Next in order follow the Bishops' mansions. A good deal of the 
episcopal land, so far as can be judged, changed hands during the 
first twenty years after the Conquest, although on the whole the English 
bishops held perhaps as much at the time of the Survey as before ; 
this, however, was due more to the fact that William's favourites were 
appointed to episcopal emoluments than that many of the lands qua 
church lands had not been confiscated. Practically the number of 
manors in the county in the bishops' hands which ought to bear some 
relation to the mansions in the town do not do so. First of all we 
find Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose manors in Oxford- 
shire are represented by the solitary Newington 2 , yet possessed of 
seven mansions in Oxford. Walchelin, Bishop of Winchester, with only 
the two manors of Witney and Adderbury, which originally belonged 
to the bishopric, yet holds nine mansions in Oxford. When, how- 
ever, we come to the lands of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, we find nearly 
fifty manors or parts of manors in the county, held by him, which 
bear a proper relationship to the eighteen mansions which he held in 
Oxford. But this arises probably from the circumstance that there 
was here wholesale confiscation. The Domesday record to the first 

eas custodit' (Ibid. fol. 239 b, col. 1). This again points to the recent death of 
Earl Alberic, his lands being still in custody. It will also illustrate what has been 
said of the mansions in towns, to quote from the Survey of the borough of 
"Warwick: ' Albericus comes habtiit IV mansuras quae pertinent ad terrain quam 
tenuit.' Ibid. fol. 238 a, col. 1. 

1 Domesday, folio 161 a, col. 1 and 2. 

2 A copy of the original gift of this manor by Aelgifu, the mother of Edward the 
Confessor, is preserved ' Ic AZlgifu seo hlafdige Eadweardes cyninges modor,' &c. 
See K.C. D. No. 965, vol. iv. 298, and Dugdale, ed. 1817, vol. i. p. 100. 


of the manors held by him adds the note, ' Alwine and Aelfgar held 
them freely ; ' and though in the case of two manors a certain Alnoth 
is recorded to have held them, we may perhaps be justified in suppos- 
ing that all the rest, to the number of some forty-eight or thereabouts, 
which have no notes, followed the first ; and that in the change from 
Alwine and Aelfgar to their successors, and then to the Bishop of 
Bayeux, the houses in Oxford were not separated from the manors 
belonging to them. In the hands of the Bishop of Lincoln (whose title 
of Bishop of Dorchester it will be observed is here, as well as else- 
where, already suppressed) there are some ten or a dozen manors, and 
some of them very extensive throughout the county, but not sufficient 
to warrant the very large number of thirty mansions in Oxford. He 
was, however, more unfortunate than the Bishop of Bayeux, for while 
of those belonging to the latter less than one-fourth were vastae, of 
those belonging to the English bishop more than one-half were so. 

But perhaps it is a more remarkable circumstance that neither the 
Bishop of Coutances, nor the Bishop of Hereford, have any manors 
in the county, and yet have respectively two and three houses in 
Oxford ; while on the other hand the Bishops of Salisbury and Exeter 
have each a manor, and the Bishop of Lisieux has four in the county, 
and yet neither have houses in Oxford. 

If we consider the abbeys in the same way, we are met with diffi- 
culties and some inconsistencies. The abbey of S. Edmund, though 
it had property in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, had none in 
Oxfordshire ; nor does there seem to be any trace of the connection 
of this abbey with Teynton, which, according to the Survey, belonged 
to the abbey of S. Denys, near Paris, and which had been given to it 
by Eadward the Confessor. There was good reason, however, for the 
Abbey of Abingdon having the fourteen mansions, for though it could 
not count more than eight or nine manors in the county, it had so 
large a number in Berkshire, and consequently so much business to 
transact at the courts which were held in Oxford, that this large 
number may well have been needed. 

In the case of Ensham, however, the matter is different, and we must 
look rather to the thirteen houses being somewhat of the nature of an 
endowment of their church here ; for the words of the Survey run ' has 
[one church and xiii mansions/ The connection between Ensham 
I Abbey and Stowe in Lincolnshire has already been pointed out 1 , and 
j Ensham itself is entered amongst the lands of the Bishop of Lincoln 2 . 

! 1 See ante, p. 170. 

2 The record puts the matter very clearly: — 'The Bishop of Lincoln holds 



Fortunately a Register and Cartulary of Ensham have been pre- 
served 1 , and thus we have a complete list of the property not only 
corroborating but fully explaining and illustrating the passages in 
Domesday. Transcripts of two charters of King William should 
perhaps be noticed here, since the abbey of Ensham, as will be seen, 
was closely connected with Oxford. The first runs : — 

'William King of the English to his Bishops and all his faithful 
people in England greeting. Know that I have confirmed the gift 
which Earl Leofric and Godiva his wife made to the church of 
S. Mary, of Stowe. . . . Further, I grant to the said church, on the 
advice of Bishop Remigius, the church of Egnesham, with all the lands 
which it now possesses, on this condition, that the Abbot there shall 
be ruled by my counsel, whenever he deliberates upon matters con- 
nected with these churches And this I do by the counsel 

and testimony of L[anfranc] the archbishop: Witnesses, E[dward], 
Sheriff and Robert de Oili V 
The next runs : — 

' I, William King of England, to the men of the Abbey of Stowe 
(La Stowe) greeting: I command you that you be obedient to your 
Lord, the Abbot Columbanus, as you were to Remigius the Bishop in 
all things. Witnesses: Richard de Curci 3 .' 

But the long charter of Bishop Remigius, granted in 1091, i.e. some 
five years after the Survey, contains a complete summary of all the 
property at that time in their possession. The following passage more 
especially concerns Oxford, the thirteen mansions being probably 
included under ' reculis ' 

1 1 add also, besides, to the same church of the most glorious mother 
of God (i. e. S. Mary's, Stowe), and to the monks living there, a cer- 
tain important increase, namely, Egnesham, together with the same 
pagus in which it was of old erected, and with all the other members 
belonging to it, that is to say, ' Sciffort' and Rollendricht, also Aerdin- 
ton and Micleton and with the little church (ecclesiola) of S. Aebba 
situate in the city of Oxford, together with the lesser revenues (reculis) 

Eglesham, and the Monk Columbanus of him ; there are 15! hydes there belonging 
to the Church : the same Columbanus holds of the Bishop Scipford ; there are 
three hydes ; the same Columbanus holds of the Bishop 5 hydes in Parvi Rollandri.' 
Domesday, folio 155 a, col. 2. Later on also it is noted that Roger of Iveri 'holds 
of the Bishop, Hardintone ; this is of the Church of Eglesham.' Both ShifTord 
(which lies about six miles south-west of Ensham) and Ardington (? Yarnton) are 
named in the original charter of Ethelred of 1005, and both were held by the 
Abbey at the dissolution, the latter being spelt in the ministers' accounts ' Erdyng- 
ton.' Little Rollright is about two miles north-west of Chipping Norton. 

1 They are in the possession of the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church. 

2 Printed in Dugdale' Monasticon, ed. 1846, vol. iii. p. 14. Appendix A, § 95. 

3 Ibid. p. 14. From incidental evidence from other sources these two charters 
may be dated perhaps about 1075. Appendix A, § 96. 


presented to it by the piety of the faithful, and also the two mills on 
the stream of water adjoining the said city already erected, together 
with all the appurtenances belonging to them, by any right whatever 1 .' 

A somewhat later charter of confirmation, namely, in Henry the 
First's reign, i.e. 1109, refers to certain houses in Oxford: — 

' And in Oxford the church of S. Aebba and all that belongs to it ; 
and two mills near Oxford and the meadows, and Aerdinton and 
whatever the Bishop gave in the exchange of Newerch and Stowe. . . . 
William Fitz Nigel gave one house at Oxford. Harding of Oxford, 
who went to Jerusalem and died there, gave two houses in Oxford, one 
within and one without the borough. Gillebert de Damari gave one 
house without the borough, except the customary payment to the King 2 .' 

It is, perhaps, beyond hope to identify the position of any of these 
four houses, nor is it clear whether they were given in addition to the 
thirteen mansions named already in the Domesday Survey. 

These three abbeys are the only religious houses except S. Frides- 
wide (which will be found mentioned later) described as holding pro- 
perty in Oxford itself. Other religious foundations, however, held 
property in the county. The newly founded Abbey of Battle, called 
in Domesday Ecclesia De La Batailge 3 , had had Earl Harold's manor 
of Crowmarsh 4 , on the other side of the river from Wallingford, already 
bestowed upon it. The ancient Abbey of Winchcombe in Gloucester- 
shire, founded by King Cynewulf in 798, had had amongst its earliest 
grants, Enstone, which was retained still. The Abbey of Preaux in 
Normandy, in the diocese of Lisieux, founded about 1040, had had 
Watlington 5 given to it; and the Abbey of S. Denys, near Paris, had 
had, according to the charter we possess of Edward the Confessor, 

1 From the Ensham Register. In the possession of the Dean and Chapter of 
Christ Church. Charter No. 8. Printed in Dugdale, vol. iii. p. 15. Appendix 
A, § 97- 

2 From the Ensham Register, No. 10, Dugdale, ibid. p. 16. There are one or 
two later charters respecting houses in Oxford belonging to the abbey, and though 
they throw some light upon the property described in the Survey, they would be 
more properly considered in treating of the following century. Appendix A, § 98. 

At the Dissolution, according to the Computus Ministrorum Domini Regis 
Hen. VIII. (a.d. 1539), Ensham was s ti\l receiving from ' Tenementa in Oxon. 
Villa,'' the sum of £1 6s. Sd. Dugdale, ibid. p. 32. 

3 ' Et quia in hoc loco, ubi sic constructa est ecclesia, Deus mihi victoriam praebuit 
in bello, ob victoriae memoriam, ipsum locum Bellum appellari volui? From the 
original, which is preserved amongst the Harleian Charters, No. 83. Printed in 
Dugdale, ed. 1846, vol. iii. p. 244. 

4 'Abbatia de Labatailge tenet de rege Craumares . . . Heraldus comes tenuit? 
Domesday, folio 157 a, col. 1. 

5 ' Abbatia Prattellensis tenet de rege v hidas in Watelinton . . . yEl/elmus liber 
homo tenuit T. R. E' Ibid, folio 157 a, col. 1. 

R 2 



the vill of Taynton 1 , in Oxfordshire, given to it. Yet none of these 
four are returned as holding any of the houses in Oxford in their pos- 
session. It will, however, be noticed as a very singular coincidence that 
a house in Oxford does belong to Taynton, and that it is entered as if 
it was belonging to S. Edmunds. There certainly seems to be strong 
negative evidence in the Cartulary of St. Edmund's Abbey against the 
manor ever having been transferred to that abbey, and it must there- 
fore be suspected that we have here an error on the part of the 
compiler of the Survey, who has entered the wrong abbey in Domesday. 

We next find a long list of Norman earls and barons, who had 
come over with the Conqueror, holding in the same way mansions in 
Oxford, apparently representing manors in Oxfordshire or the neigh- 
bouring counties, but which, as had been the case with the episcopal 
estates, had sometimes become separated. These earls and barons 
take their places in the Domesday Survey as tenentes in capite^ or 
tenants in chief, that is, they hold their land direct from the crown 2 . 

It is very difficult to understand the circumstances which ruled the 
distribution of the lands to the Norman nobles on the accession 
of William. Some of the more favoured seem to have held manors 
in half the counties of England. If we take the first on the list, the 
Earl of Moretain, William's half-brother, we find that he has some 
eight hundred manors, distributed throughout twenty counties, ranging 
from Yorkshire to Sussex, and from Cornwall (nearly the whole of 
which he possessed) to Norfolk. This is of course exceptional, and per- 
haps he ranks the highest amongst the most favoured of the Norman 
barons in this respect. But Hugh, Earl of Chester, seems to have held 
nearly a hundred and fifty manors, distributed also over twenty coun- 
ties; while Henry of Ferrars more than a hundred, distributed over four- 
teen counties ; and Milo Crispin has over ninety, but confined to seven 
counties, the greater part being in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. 

The proportion of the Oxford mansions to the manors held in the 
county by these Norman nobles is, as already said, often unequal. 
The Earl of Mortain, though he has ten mansions, holds only two 
manors in Oxfordshire, viz. ten hydes in Hornelie (possibly Horley, 
three miles north-west of Banbury), which had been held by a certain 
Tochi, and one hyde which the monks of St. Peter's, Westminster, 
held of him, but of which the locality is not given 3 . 

1 * Ecdesia S. Dionysii Parisii tenet de rege Tcigtone! Ibid, folio 157 a, col. 1. 

2 See the list of those in Oxfordshire given on the facsimile page of the Domesday 
Survey in this volume. 

3 Domesday, folio 157 a, col. 2. 


Earl Hugh, however, has somewhat better reason for his seven 
mansions, as he holds five manors in the county. Hugh de Abrincis, 
i.e. of Avranches, had the earldom of Chester given to him by the 
Conqueror in the year 1070, and though nearly forty manors had 
been granted to him in the county of Chester (which he held in 
dominio, and not de rege), we find him as tenant in chief of several 
manors in various other districts. In Berkshire two, in Bucking- 
hamshire three, and in Oxfordshire five. In the last county he had 
obtained Peritone (i.e. Pirton, north of Watlington), which had 
belonged to Archbishop Stigand, of Canterbury; Westone (which 
must be Weston, the adjoining parish; Tachelie (i.e. Tackley, to the 
north of Woodstock), which Hugo, King Eadward's chamberlain, had 
held ; Cercelle (which is most likely Churchill, near Chipping Norton), 
and this Earl Harold had held ; and land in Ardulveslie (now Ardley, 
north-west of Bicester) 1 . 

William, Earl of Evreux, had succeeded to his earldom in 1067, 
and is recorded, together with his father, to have fought in the great 
battle near Hastings. His rewards were not seemingly so great as 
those of others, who perhaps had done less for William, as he was 
only possessed of some seventeen manors, nine of which lay in 
Berkshire and the remaining eight in Oxfordshire 2 . The lands he 
acquired in the few cases where the previous holders' names are given 
seem not to have belonged to persons known to history. One 
mansion at Oxford it will be seen represents the whole. 

Henry of Ferrieres 3 was either a richer man, and could purchase 
more, or he was a greater favourite, and his manors, of which there 
are over a hundred 4 , are so distributed that thirty-three are in 
Leicestershire, twenty-two in Berkshire 5 , and seven in Oxfordshire 6 , 
and yet his manors are represented by two houses only in Oxford. 
1 Domesday, folio 157 a, col. 2. 2 Ibid. 

3 In most documents the name is written de Ferrariis. There are one or two 
villages in Normandy named Ferrieres ; probably he derived his title from that near 

4 Domesday, folio 157 b, col. 2. 

5 Of the acquisition of two of his Berkshire manors (fol. 60 b, col. 1), Fivehide 
(Fyfield) and Chingestune (Kingston Bagpuiz), we have a very interesting account 
preserved by the compiler of the Abingdon Chronicle (Rolls, ed. vol. i. pp. 484 
and 491). There had evidently been law proceedings respecting them between him 
and Abingdon Abbey. On the ground that Godric sheriff of Berkshire holding 
Fyfield, under Abingdon, and Turchill in the same way holding Kingston, had 
both fallen while fighting in the great battle, the court held that the manors were 
rightly confiscated, and Henry of Ferrieres gained the suit. 

6 The following note occurs in one of the manors, namely that of ' Dene and 
Celford (i.e. Dean in Spelsbury Parish and Salford near Chipping Norton) ; 


William Peverel also (who was an illegitimate son of the Conqueror) 
seems to have been well favoured; when, in 1068, William erected 
Nottingham Castle, he gave it into the charge of William Peverel. 
He possessed nearly a hundred manors 1 , but not very widely dis- 
tributed, nearly eighty of them being situated in Nottinghamshire and 
Northamptonshire, and the remainder in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, 
Beds, Berks, Bucks, and Oxon. In Buckinghamshire he held ten 
manors ; in Oxfordshire two, and in Berkshire one. His two 
Oxfordshire manors were Clawelle and Amintone (Crowell and Era- 
mington), both in the hundred of Lewknor, and not far from Thame. 
His four mansions are therefore somewhat disproportionate, unless 
they represent manors in Buckinghamshire as well. 

Edward the Sheriff is named next as holding two mansions ; a 
signature has already been noted 2 which might be thought to imply 
that he was sheriff of Oxford, yet it is possibly the same as the 
Edward who is elsewhere referred to in Domesday as Edward of 
Salisbury 3 , and this Edward was sheriff of Wilts. Under this latter 
title 4 he appears to have possessed two manors in Oxfordshire out of 
the fifty-seven he possessed in all. Forty of them were in Wiltshire, the 
remainder being in Dorset, Somerset, Hants, Surrey, Middlesex, and 
Hertfordshire 5 . We know something of his history, and he must 
have been rather a young man at this time, if it is the same who in 
the twentieth year of Henry the First's reign (1120) served as 
standard-bearer at the battle of Br^mule. 

Ernulph, of Hesding (named possibly from Hesdin in Picardy, but 
as no trace is found amongst the signatures of charters there, probably 

' Hujus terrae v hidas tenet H[enricus] de rege et iij hidas emit ab Eduino Vice- 
comite,' Domesday, folio 157 b, col. 2. It opens up a curious enquiry how Eadwine 
the sheriff was in a position to sell a part of the manor. Also what Eadwine 
is meant. In 1050 Wulfwine was sheriff of Oxfordshire (see ante, p. 179), and 
an Edward, according to the next entry but one on the Oxford list, seems to be 
sheriff at the time of the Survey. 

1 Domesday, folio 157 b, col. 2. 

2 As a signature to the charter respecting Ensham, see ante, p. 242. The signa- 
ture however does not mention the name of the county of which he was sheriff. 

3 Edward of Salisbury was sheriff of Wiltshire, for in the Domesday Survey 
(folio 69 a, col. 1) there is an entry of his profits as sheriff as follows : — ' Edwardus 
vicecomes habet per annum de denariis quae pertinent ad vicecomitatum, 120 
porcos et 32 bacones ; Frumenti 12 modios, et 8 sextarios, et tantundem brasii : 
Avenae 5 modios et 4 sextarios : Mellis 16 sextarios vel pro melle 16 solidos (this 
gives us the price of honey then) ; Gallinas 480 ; Ova 1600 ; Caseos 100 ; Agnos 
52 ; Vellera ovium 240; Bledi annonae 162 acras.' 

* Domesday, folio 160 a, col. 1. 

5 Under Hertfordshire (folio 139 a, col. 2) the heading is 'Terra Edwardi Vice- 
comitis 1 ; but a^nongst the entries the form ' Edwardus Sarisberiensis occurs.' 


from some place in Normandy the name of which is lost), was well 
favoured, as nearly fifty manors were held by him, mostly in Wilt- 
shire. In Oxfordshire he held three manors \ viz. Bortone (but 
which of the three Bourtons has not been ascertained), Ludewelle 
(Ledwell in Sandford St. Martin's parish), and Norione (probably 
Chipping Norton) ; and just as he held three' manors in the shire, 
so also he held three mansions in Oxford. 

Berenger of Todeni 2 had but nine manors 3 , but strangely dis- 
tributed : two in Yorkshire, one in Lincolnshire, three in Nottingham- 
shire, and three in Oxfordshire ; the latter being Brohtune (Broughton), 
a part of Hornelie (i.e. Horley, already referred to as being held also 
in part by the Earl of Mortain), and Bodicote, all three lying in 
the immediate neighbourhood of Banbury, and represented by one 

Milo Crispin 4 , as has been noticed, had several manors, and mostly 
in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, holding, as he did, over thirty 
in each of those counties. He married Maud the daughter of Robert 
D'Oilgi, who had married the daughter of Wigod of Wallingford, but 
as the marriage must have taken place after the date of the Survey, he 
could not have obtained any of his manors through his wife. He 
possessed Gadintone (probably Goddintone) and Cestretone (Chester- 
ton), both of which had belonged to Wigod of Wallingford ; Haselic 
which had belonged to Queen Edith, and Witecerce (Whitchurch) 
which had belonged to Leuric and Alwin : of his other manors 
nothing is noted as to who held them in the time of King Eadward 5 . 
Amongst his Buckingham manors also appear one or two which had 
belonged to Wigod of Wallingford 6 . His two mansions in Oxford 
are scarcely representative of his property in the county. 

Richard of Curci (who takes his name from Courcy sur Dive) 7 was 

1 Domesday, folio 160 a, col. 1. 

2 He seems to have come from Toeni, or, as it is now spelt, Tosny, near the bank 
of the Seine, and in his domain or adjoining to it there arose in after years, to 
the delight of Richard the First, one of the finest fortresses along the whole course 
of that river, and which was hence known as the Chateau Gaillard. Orderic Vital 
mentions Ralph de Toeni who was standard-bearer to William, and was at the 
battle near Hastings. Later on his son Ralph played a part in history. There were 
also three of the family named Roger of Toeni, the first of whom died before 
William came over. Berenger of Toeni is not mentioned by Orderic Vital at all. 

3 Domesday, folio 159 a, col. 2. 

4 In 1084 he is referred to by the Abingdon chronicler as follows : ' Cum Miloni 
de Walingaford cognomento Crispin.' Chron. Mon. Ab. ii. p. 12. 

5 Domesday, folio 159 a, col. 2. 6 Domesday, folio 150 a. col. 1. 

7 In the Department of Calvados, about ten miles N.E. of Falaise. Richard of 


possessed of three manors only 1 , and those three in Oxfordshire, viz. 
Neuham (probably Nuneham near Oxford) Secendene (i. e. Checkendon 
beneath the Chilterns), and a hyde in Foxcote (a hamlet of Idbury 
near Burford); and these are fairly represented by three mansions. 

When we come to Robert D'Oilgi (named probably from Ouilly le 
Vicomte 2 ) it will be observed that twelve mansions are entered under 
his name as held by him in Oxford 3 , and another forty-two houses 
are entered elsewhere, where his name; occurs amongst the tenants in 
chief. There can be little question that the latter are wholly in addition 
to the mansions enumerated in the Oxford list. As has already been 
pointed out, besides being castellan or governor of Oxford, he had 
married the daughter of Wigod of Wallingford, and had no doubt 
acquired some of his father-in-law's manors as a dowry, and more still 
at his death, since it would appear that they had not been confiscated 
by the Conqueror. At the same time, but few evidences occur of this 
in the Survey. For instance, amongst D'Oilgi's manors in Berkshire 
only one seems to have been derived from his father-in-law. 

He was possessed in all of some fifty manors, of which the greater 
part were in Oxfordshire, the remainder being in the neighbourhood ; 
that is, three in Northamptonshire, one in Warwickshire, two in Hert- 
fordshire, one in Bedfordshire, six in Buckinghamshire, six in Berk- 
shire, and three in Gloucestershire. 

There are twenty-nine entries of his manors 4 distributed throughout 
Oxfordshire, and to some of these manors, directly or indirectly, 
it is probable that the twelve mansions named in the Survey belonged. 

It is different perhaps as regards the ' forty-two houses, as well 
within as without the wall V These belonged wholly to the Holywell 
manor, which must be considered to be both adjacent to, as well as 

Courci, who held the Oxford mansions, assisted William Rums against Robert de 
Belesme, who in 1091 in return besieged his castle at Courci. Orderic Vital 
(Lib. viii. 16) describes him as then grey-headed. He signs the charter quoted 
ante, p. 242. 

1 Domesday Survey, folio 159 a, col. 1. 

2 There are four places in Calvados of the name of Ouilly, viz. Ouilly-le-vicomte, 
and Ouilly-du-Houlley, both near to Lisieux, and Ouilly-le-Basset, and Ouilly-le- 
Tesson, both near to Falaise. At the first of these, which lies three miles to the 
north of Lisieux, there still exists a most curious little church of a date anterior to 
the twelfth century, built up of Roman materials {Statistiqtie Monumentale du 
Calvados, 1867, v. p. 4). It is just possible it was due to the piety of Robert ; and 
if so we have there the forerunner of the churches of St. George, St. Mary Magdalen, 
St. Michael, and St. Peter at Oxford. 

3 Domesday, folio 158 a, col. 1. 4 Domesday, folio 158, col. I. 

5 Domesday Survey under No. xxviii. folio 158 a, cols. 1, 2, and 158 b, col. 1. See 
ante, p. 224. 


partially within Oxford. It is true the description is obscure, and 
the passage referring to his holding one manor, with the benefice 
of S. Peter, seems to have been left imperfect in the process of tran- 
scription. The mention of the mill, which is no doubt that still 
bearing the name of Holywell Mill, and St. Peter's church, which, in 
much later documents, is shown to be closely'connected with Holy- 
well l , seem to point distinctly to there being one manor of Holywell 
to which both the paragraphs above quoted from Domesday refer, 
though in the original they are separated by intervening paragraphs. 
The explanation is that first the manors are described which Robert 
D'Oilgi held in demesne, and next the series of manors or portions 
which were leased to under-tenants. 

It will be observed that in reference to these tenements in Oxford, the 
term 1 domos 1 is used instead of mansiones ; but as already pointed out, 
there is no practical difference in the terms : further, the word hospi- 
tatas 2 is added, which, in this instance, can mean nothing more than 
that the houses were let to tenants. It is not, however, without interest 
to note that twenty-three men on the manor have gardens. These 
' hortuli' may reasonably be taken in the sense of market gardens, 
and it is an exceptional instance of the reference to an industry in 
Oxford at this time 3 . 

1 In the Hundred Rolls (vol. ii. p. 805). In the inquisition taken temp. Edw. I. 
we find f Dominus Bogo de Clare, rector ecclesiae Beati Petri orientalis Oxon . . . 
tenet manerium de Halywelle ratione ecclesiae suae praedictae, de novo a burgo 
Oxoniensi subtractum.' The advowsons of both St. Peter's and Holywell church 
belong to Merton College at the present time. 

2 The expression ' mansiones hospitatae? as has been shown in a previous page 
(p- 2 34)> occurs in the entry respecting Lincoln, where it appears to be applied 
to the houses generally. The burgesses of Lewes are returned as having 39 man- 
surae hospitatae et 20 inhospitatae (fol. 26 a, col. 1). The term is not confined to the 
meaning of 'inhabited,' which is the obvious rendering, for the word is used in a 
charter temp. Hen. III., in respect to a meadow, e.g. ' Exdono Gilbert! filii Nigeli, 
totum pratum tarn hospitatum quam non hospitatum, quod est sub habitaculo earun- 
dem monialium.' (See Prior. S. Clemen tis juxta Eboracum, Dugdale, vol. iv. 325.) 
(See Ducange also, sub voce ' Aospes.') The false argument, however, adopted from 
the incidental use of this word in the Survey of Oxford, to support the theory of the 
existence of a University here at this time should not be quite passed over without 
notice. Antony a Wood writes ' What those houses stiled " domos hospitatas " should 
signify but hospitia, i. e. Inns or Receptacles for Scholars (for so hospitia, accord- 
ing to commentators, is expounded), let those that are critics judge.' {History and 
Antiquities of the University of Oxford, ed. 1792, vol. i. p. 133.) Wood, before 
giving to the words this sense, should have observed that while Oxford only 
possessed 42, the city of Lincoln possessed 912 so described. 

3 The other exceptions are Wulwi the fisherman and Swetman the moneyer : the 
latter however, would perhaps be looked upon as a government official rather than 
a tradesman. Of course there are the mills, each of which implies a miller. 


Robert D'Oilgi has already been noticed somewhat fully in the his- 
torical narrative given in the last chapter, as the founder of S. George's 
in the Castle, and, by implication, of S. Mary Magdalen ; and here we 
find another church connected with his name, namely, S. Peter's in 
the East, and it is not unreasonable to suppose him to have been the 
founder of this also l . 

It is very difficult to assign a definite position to this monument 
amongst the historical monuments of Oxford. In the first place, the 
church has been made to play a prominent part in the mythical story 
of King Alfred's foundation, and the crypt called in, so to speak, as a 
witness to the truth of the story of Grymbald having built himself a 
tomb in which he had intended ' his bones should be laid 2 ;' and this 
has tended to deter sober investigation into its real history. Though 
the story of Grymbald having built the crypt be an invention, the 
monument may be said to retain evidences, which seem to point to 
the plan being of a period before D'Oilgi's time, and yet other 
evidence seems to point to the structure being after his time ; and 
hence there is some difficulty. 

The plan of this crypt, as now visible, represents nothing very 
extraordinary, and, by a casual visitor, it would be at once ascribed to 
Henry the First's reign, but be admitted to be of a type of crypt 
which was continued later ; and as there appears to be no break 
between the wall of the crypt and the wall of the chancel above, 
which wall contains both structural and ornamental evidences of being 
of the time of Stephen (if not of Henry the Second), the conclusion 
would naturally be drawn that the crypt was probably of the latter 
date. At the same time, the small doorways on either side and at the 
western end would suggest that work of an earlier date had been 
made use of. But the plan of the crypt as a whole, which was dis- 
covered by the excavations made under the auspices of the Oxford 
Architectural and Historical Society in 1863, is of a type which is 
usually supposed to have ceased in the eleventh century in this 
country, or at latest in Henry the First's reign. 

The essential features of this type were, first, that the vault of the 
crypt was raised some three or four feet above the level of the floor of 

1 It will be noticed that the church holds two hydes of him ; and this looks rather 
like an endowment on his part. Had the church already held the land the entry 
would probably have been different. Of course it does not exclude the hypothesis 
that there was a church already, that it had lost its original endowments, and that 
D'Oilgi gave to it others ; but in the absence of any rebutting evidence the first is 
by far the most reasonable hypothesis. 

2 See ante, p. 47. 


the nave ; next, that there were descending steps from the nave both 
on the north and south side into the crypt. In some cases moreover the 
space now occupied in our cathedrals, and in the few parish churches 
in which the choir is thus raised, by central steps leading up into the 
choir, was left open, or at most covered by a grill or something of the 
kind, through which a tomb or important shrine could be seen; 
this was an imitation, or rather a survival of, the early arrangement in 
the Roman churches, in which this plan of a raised crypt had for 
some rather obscure reason come to be called a ' Confessio/ There 
are very few parish churches where any traces of this latter arrange- 
ment are at all visible. At Wing, in Buckinghamshire, the very rude 
crypt beneath the chancel, constructed of concrete rather than 
masonry, exhibits traces of an opening of this kind ; by the alteration, 
however, of level, coupled with either wanton destruction or decay, 
the exact plan of the Confessio has been obscured. At Repton, in 
Derbyshire, while the ninth century crypt shows a fine example of 
masonry, the vaulted roof being supported upon twisted columns, the 
western arrangement has been much obliterated; but sufficient remains 
to show there had been a central communication with the church 
above, by some sort of opening, for the faithful to see into the crypt 
without necessarily descending the steps which led down into it. In 
this church also the three arches at the western end remain, two of 
which, one on either side, present the original arrangement of the steps 
leading down into the crypt from the nave. 

At S. Peter's Church there are the three western arches, two of 
which are doorways, but now blocked up ; but behind each of them 
a passage, some ten feet in length, exists leading to some steps of 
which on either side some five or six remain, or have left traces in the 
undisturbed gravel to show whence they had been removed. It must 
have required some ten steps to reach to the level of the nave. These 
doorways, with the remains of the bolt-holes for the bolts with which 
the doors were provided, evidently belong to the original structure. 
The central archway at the western end, now open, leads into a 
small, low, rudely vaulted chamber, but it is doubtful if it presents 
anything of the original character ; and whether or not it provided in 
its first construction an opening to the nave, or whether central steps 
were part of the original design, cannot now be ascertained 1 . 

1 See Oxford Architectural and Historical Society's Report, May, 1863, vol. i. 
p. 223. A good view of the crypt is given in Skelton's Oxonia Antiqua Restaurata, 
1843, pi. 703, where it is represented flooded with water, which was frequently the 


With those data it is necessary to proceed somewhat cautiously; but, 
taking into account various considerations, the following explanations 
are suggested. The endowment of the church being held from 
Robert D'Oylly's manor, as has been said, seems to point to the 
building of the church being due to his bounty, or at least to his 
permission, if not assistance as governor of Oxford, and therefore to 
be associated with his name. The fact of an ancient arrangement 
being adopted, is not of itself sufficient evidence to conclude that a 
church already existed on the spot. No doubt at Canterbury, the 
leading example for architectural history, Lanfranc, who succeeded to 
his archbishopric in 1070, and who began his work soon after, 
followed the old plan, though he appears to have built de novo 1 . 

His work was going on at Canterbury at the same time that Robert 
D'Oilgi's work was going on in Oxford, and therefore it is not surpris- 
ing if the same plan in this respect was followed here. Something 
of the same arrangement must have been followed at Rochester and 
several other cathedrals rebuilding at the same time, but in all these 

1 Since the arrangement which S. Peter's church offers (though no advantage 
was taken of this recent restoration to render this arrangement visible) is so rare 
and interesting, and since it affords so important a piece of evidence in the argu- 
ment for this portion at least of the structure being of the time of Robert D'Oilgi, 
it will be satisfactory perhaps here to introduce a short extract from the description 
given by Gervase (printed in Twisden's Decent Scriptores, col. 1291, &c. and 
ed. Rolls Series, 1879, v °l- *• P- It must be premised however that Gervase, 
who wrote circa 1 200, did not see the arrangement which he describes, but copies 
that of Eadmer, the singer, who introduces incidentally a note upon the arrange- 
ment of Canterbury in his Vita Audoeni. ' This was the very church which had 
been built by the Romans as Bede bears witness in his history, and which was duly 
arranged in some parts in imitation of the church of the blessed Prince of the 
Apostle Peter [at Rome] in which his holy relics are exalted by the veneration of 
the whole world . . . [He then gives an account of the altars in the church of 
Canterbury.] To reach these altars a certain crypt which the Romans call a 
" confessionary " had to be ascended from the "choir of the singers " by several 
steps. This crypt was constructed underneath, after the likeness of the confes- 
sionary of S. Peter, the vault of which was raised so high, that it could only be 
reached by many steps . . . and when Lanfranc came to Canterbury [1070] he found 
the church which he had undertaken to rule was reduced to ashes ... As for the 
church he set about to destroy it utterly and erect a more noble one . . . but before 
the work began he commanded that the bodies of the Saints which were buried in 
the eastern part of the church, should be removed to the western part ... to which I 
Eadmer can bear witness for I was then a boy at school.' More cannot be quoted 
without raising questions as to the details of the arrangement, and the object of this 
note is only to show that the ' confessio ' was the primitive arrangement ; that 
Lanfranc in his work, which was going on from 1070-77, followed it, as existing 
remains testify, and therefore that it is not unlikely that Robert D'Oilgi (who founded 
St. George in the Castle in 1074) followed such an arrangement. The church which, 
after the great pattern church of Rome, was dedicated to St. Peter, would be more 
likely to follow something of the same type, though on a very small scale. 


cases, immediately the century turned, the old work seems to have 
been thought unworthy, and was destroyed, or partially so, to make 
way for new work of a better description, or on a more extensive 
scale. Anselm, for instance, at Canterbury, so altered and changed 
the work of Lanfranc, some forty years afterwards, that very little of 
the old structure is now visible. The western wall of the crypt 
remains as it was left by Lanfranc, and the doorways, with the steps 
leading down from the aisles ; but the vaulting was raised by Anselm, 
and though in all probability much of the old material was used up 
again, the crypt must be said to belong to Anselm' s date. 

Here in S. Peter's Church probably D'Oilgi's crypt was kept, and 
whether the steps were still retained in use or not, the three western 
arches were retained. The masonry of two more doorways, situated 
in the northern and southern walls of the crypt respectively, and which 
communicated by a newel staircase with the choir above, were probably 
made use of again, but the walls, so far as can be ascertained, were 
nevertheless wholly rebuilt. Even the doorways at the top of the 
newel staircases seem to have been retained and rebuilt again into 
the new wall, since they are similar in character to those below ; 
while some of the pillars, bases, and capitals were very probably used 
up again, or others made, for the sake of uniformity, to be like them. 
Work of this kind may be so carefully performed as to leave no trace 
behind it by which to distinguish between the old and the new, and so 
it is here. The masonry such as would be used in a crypt built in the 
reign of Henry I. or of Stephen might be of exactly the same character 
as the original masonry of the time of the Conqueror or of even 
earlier date, since the distinction observable between the wide-jointed 
and fine-jointed masonry is, as a rule, confined to work intended for 
a more prominent position. 

It may be asked, Why was the crypt rebuilt within fifty years or so 
of its first erection ? The answer is probably the same as must be 
given to the question of Anselm rebuilding Lanfranc's work, of which 
we have such full and clear record. In his new work at Canterbury, 
the . crypt was certainly elevated by some two or three feet higher 
than before, the line being plainly visible on its western wall. There 
is little doubt also that the crypt was extended eastward, though 
in this case, as in the case of Rochester and other cathedrals, the 
crypt has in the thirteenth century been extended again further east- 
ward, so that the line of the eastward termination, as it was in the 
twelfth century, is wholly obliterated. 

Now in S. Peter's the probabilities are that D'Oilgi's crypt was 



not extended so far to the east as it is now, and also that it had an 
apsidal termination, such as that which is shown on the plan of the 
original crypt of S. George's in the Castle, erected, probably, only a 
short time previously to S. Peter's. It is true that isolated instances 
of rectangular terminations of crypt and chancel occur before the 
twelfth century ; also, on the other hand, isolated instances of apsidal 
terminations occur in this country, erected after the close of the 
eleventh century, and are common enough on the continent; but the 
rule is so general of apsidal terminations in the eleventh, and rect- 
angular terminations in the twelfth, as to warrant the supposition that 
the alterations were undertaken partly with the object of changing the 
small apse into a tolerably capacious choir with the flat east end, such 
as it has now according to the fashion of the time, and that the altera- 
tion, and almost entire rebuilding of the crypt, with the exception of the 
western wall, took place some fifty years or more after the original 
building by Robert D'Oilgi, but with the plan and some of the 
original details retained. This, on the whole, appears to be the best 
explanation by which the several circumstances can be accounted for ; 
so that the visitor, when standing in S. Peter's crypt and looking 
westward, may be said to gaze upon a monument which carries him 
back to the time of Robert D'Oilgi, as much as the tower of St. Michael's 
Church, or that which rises from the Castle. 

Another view would be that the crypt is entirely as Robert D'Oilgi 
left it. It is, as regards masonry, an advance on the tower of the 
Castle and St. Michael's, but the concrete vault (with the marks of the 
boards remaining) is exactly what might have been expected at that 
time ; while the ashlar work and the well-set arches, the capitals, the 
columns, and the bases, would only go to show that a skilful master 
of the works was employed, and skilful workmen under him, one who 
had travelled and understood the style which was then coming in over 
the whole of western Europe. And if the crypt be compared with 
others erected during the last twenty years of the eleventh century, 
and of which the date may be reasonably assigned, e.g. the original 
part of Wulfstan's crypt at Worcester, or of Gundulf's at Rochester, 
the argument from analogy would leave much to be said for the 
theory. And so far as any absence of line of demarcation is concerned, 
such though not visible on the outside, might be visible on the interior, 
were it not obscured by the plaster with which the walls are covered. 
Still, taken all into account, the hypothesis that some alteration took 
place in Henry the First's reign is the one which would probably be 
most generally accepted. 


Of Roger of Ivry, so named from a town on the river Eure 1 , mention 
has already been made in connection with Robert D'Oilgi in the 
foundation of S. George's in the Castle 2 . It would appear they were 
sworn companions, other instances of the kind being recorded. Roger 
of Ivry was well favoured ; he had been Pincerna to the Duke of 
Normandy, and seems to have held the same office here under the 
King of England ; he possessed some forty manors which, like those 
belonging to Robert D'Oilgi, were chiefly in Oxfordshire and the 
immediate neighbourhood. Besides twenty-three in the county 3 , he 
held one in Warwickshire, one in Huntingdonshire, seven in Bucking- 
hamshire, four in Berkshire, and five in Gloucestershire. It would 
almost seem as if they had been partners in their successes and in 
their purchases. Like Robert D'Oilgi, his Oxfordshire manors, it will 
be seen, were well represented by mansions in Oxford. Amongst the 
manors under his name it will be observed he held of the king four 
hydes in Walton (probably the whole manor) in the north of Oxford, 
which reached down to the river, since it included a fishery of the value 
of 1 6d. and 6 acres of meadow, and this manor he is returned as holding 
in demesne. He also held the neighbouring manor of Ulfgarcoie 
(Wolvercote), consisting of 5 hydes ; and this he had leased to a certain 
f Godefridus V In only one solitary case throughout all his manors is 
there the slightest reference as to who held them in King Eadward's 
time, which is unfortunate, as it would have been interesting to know 
to whom the land adjoining Oxford on the North had belonged. 

Whether the Rannulf Flammard or Flambard was the same who 
under William Rufus was made Bishop of Durham (1099), and whose 
infamous career is described by historians, may be open to question. 
That he appears in Oxfordshire under the heading of Terra Canoni- 
corum de Oxeneford et Aliorum Clericorum 5 implies perhaps that he was in 
orders ; we find one with such a name also as a tenant in chief of some 
three or four manors in Hampshire 6 . That the solitary mansion in 

1 In the department of Eure, marked on the map as Ivry-la-Bataille, some sixteen 
miles S.E. of Evreux. Here Roger founded an abbey in 107 1, portions of which 
still exist. 2 See ante, p. 208. 

3 Domesday, fol, 158 b, col. 1. 4 Ibid. fol. 159 a, col. 1. 

5 Domesday, fol. 157a, col. 1 . The word Flanbard is interlineated above ' Rannulf.' 
Elsewhere, under LVIII. ' Terra Ministrorum Regis' (fol. 160 b, col. 1), a Rannulf 
occurs as holding land at Ludewelle, but it would be rash to identify the two. 

6 Domesday, fol. 49 a, col. 2. Here he is entered as Rannulfus, with the name 
Flame interlineated, and he holds Funtelei, which had been held by a certain Turi 
of Earl Godwine. Under the lands in the New Forest (folio 51a, col. 2) a Rannulf 
Flanbart holds a hide in two manors and four acres in a third, the rest being 
' in foresta! 


Oxford belonged to one or other of these manors is not improbable, 
nor is it impossible that the owner was the same as the one of this 
name who afterwards became Bishop. On the other hand it is difficult 
to reconcile the data with the biographical notice of his life given in 
Orderic Vital K 

Wido of Reinbodcurth 2 seems to have had only one manor in 
Oxfordshire, namely Werocheslan 3 (i. e. Wroxton near Banbury), but 
he had ten in Northamptonshire, and some sixteen distributed in 
Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, and Lincolnshire. Though with only 
one manor in the county he yet had two mansions in Oxford. 

Walter Gifard, lord of Longueville, afterwards Earl of Buckingham, 
was one of the more fortunate of holders of manors, his total reaching 
to nearly a hundred, of which he held ten in Oxfordshire 4 and nearly 
fifty in Buckinghamshire. These are sufficient to account for his 
having so many as seventeen mansions in Oxford. It is added that the 
predecessor of Walter had one, of the gift of King Eadward ex VIII to 
virg' quae consuetudinariae erant T R E. There is nothing amongst 
the entries of the lands of Walter which in any way connects any of 
his manors with Oxford ; at the same time the eight virgae being named, 
if the interpretation be correct 5 , affords an example of the amount of 
ground belonging to a single house, i. e. the extent of the plot of ground 
in which the house stood. 

1 He died 1128. See a summary of the evidence given in Professor E. A. Free- 
man's Reign of William Rufus, 1882, vol. ii. p. 551. 

2 The name is found spelt in the following ways in the course of the Domesday 
Survey : Rainbuedcurt, Reinbuedcurt, Reinbuedcurth, Reinbodcurth, Reinbecurt, 
and Renbudcurt. No such place has been observed in Normandy. There is a 
Rembodcourt in the Department of the Meuse, and another in that of the Meurthe. 

3 Domesday, folio 159 b, col. 2. 
* Domesday, fol. 157 b, col. 1. 

5 It could not mean that the house stood in eight virgates, though the form virg-? 
seems to stand for virgata, of which it is clear four went to the hyde, and as all 
Oxford (putting it at about ninety acres) would be included in a single hyde, it is 
impossible that such an extent of land within Oxford could belong to a single 
house. It might be thought that the gift consisted of the eight virgates elsewhere 
in the county, and the house in Oxford belonged to it : but throughout Walter 
Gifard's manors there does not seem to be one of two hydes. Or, again, it might 
be thought the house was assessed at the equivalent of eight virgates of land, but, 
compared with the 172 houses at Dorchester assessed at ten hydes, this would be 
excessive. (Folio 75 a, col. I.) It has therefore been concluded that, although the 
word is written precisely in the same way as where it means virgate, it may mean 
only a virga, i. e. a rod, or pole. At the present time such measures about 30 square 
yards, and the eight would measure 240 square yards, i. e. a moderately sized garden ; 
but there are no means of arriving at any definite measurement for the virga at that 


Next appear two mansions which are entered as belonging respec- 
tively to the two manors of Hampton and Bletchingdon. The 
names may possibly be those of the two tenants resident in them, and 
they may be Englishmen. The name Gernio is found amongst the 
King's thanes as holding ten hydes of the King in Hamptun \ and here 
therefore is another instance of a house belonging to a manor. In the 
time of King Eadward the ten hydes seem to have been divided up 
into five small manors. 

The son of Manasses might be thought to be an early instance of 
a Jew at Oxford ; it must be borne in mind however that Old Testa- 
ment names were often borne by Christians 2 . At the same time there 
is just a reason for a slight suspicion that this was a Jew. For in 
the entry under the Terra Minisirorum regis, to the effect that Alwi 
the Sheriff holds of the King two hydes and a half in Blicestone 
(Bletchingdon), it is added, ' This land Manasses bought of him without 
the king's licence V This statement is suggestive of the land being 
pledged to Manasses, or at least of some reason for his not having 
purchased the land in the usual way. However the surveyors omit all 
reference to Alwi, and insert the son of Manasses as the owner, but 
with the qualification that the house belongs to the manor. 

This completes the list of tenentes in capite holding Oxford man- 
sions. In spite of the disproportion in several instances the list of 
the holders of these mansions may fairly be said to represent the chief 
holders of the manors in the county of Oxford and its neighbourhood. 
There are however certain tenants in chief in the county who might 
have been expected to have held mansions who do not do so; e.g. Robert 
of Stratford with nine manors ; Geoffrey of Mandevile, and Walter Fitz- 
Poyntz, each with three ; Gilbert of Ghent, Richard Puingiant, Alfred, 
the nephew of Wigod, the Countess Judith (widow of Earl Waltheof) 
and Roger of Ivry's wife, each with two; and several others with 
single manors belonging to them ; but such exceptions, bearing in mind 
the chances of the separation, and the evident breaking up of manors 
which had gone on during the twenty years of the Conqueror's rule, do 
not seriously militate against the view here taken. 

! 1 Domesday, folio 160 b, col. 2, Hampton is also mentioned under the land of 
I Roger of Ivry (158 b, col. 2). The whole manor seems afterwards to have been 
\ divided into Hampton Gay and Hampton Poyle. 

2 At this very time the Archbishop of Rheims was named Manasses. His father 
j was named Manasses before him, and his next successor but one to the see, viz. in 
I 1096, was named Manasses. In the tenth century a Bishop of Aix was named 
J Israel. At Exeter the praepositus Canonicorum Sancti Andreae was named Isaac 
j (Domesday, vol. ii.fol. 71). 

3 Domesday, fol. i6ob, col. 2. 



A paragraph is here inserted in the Survey, that all the above-written 
mansions are held free because they repair the wall, but the exact force 
of the words is not very clear. They probably paid geld, but they 
were held in capite from the king, free on the condition named. 

We then have a somewhat more important list of names, for it 
may be presumed that the majority actually represent the inhabitants 
of the town, whereas, in the case of those which have preceded them, 
there is no reason to suppose that any one except Robert D'Oilgi, and 
possibly his friend the co-founder of the college in the Castle, Roger 
of Ivry, ever set foot in Oxford. 

The first entry we have amongst them is an interesting one, namely, 
4 The Priests of S. Michael's/ There can be little or no doubt that 
this is S. Michael's at North Gate, of which the tower remains to this 
day, similar in many respects to that of the castle, which we are prac- 
tically sure that Robert D'Oilgi erected. Had it not been for this entry, 
showing that there were priests attached to the church of S. Michael 
at this early date, it might have been left an open question whether, 
after all, the tower was not wholly a military work, and not in any way 
connected with the churches which the Abingdon Abbey Chronicle 
says that Robert D'Oilgi ' repaired/ But when we find priests serving 
S. Michael's, and when we learn from the original record that even within 
the precincts of the castle he erected a church with a college of priests, 
the inferences are very strong that S. Michael's priests were practically 
endowed with their houses by Robert D'Oilgi, and that he certainly 
restored, if he did not erect, the church of S. Michael's at North Gate. 

The tower is an interesting one from many points of view. It is 
intimately associated with the early history of Oxford, inasmuch as it 
is one of the very few remnants existing of work which was standing 
as visible to the inhabitants of Oxford at the time the Domesday 
Survey was compiled as it is to the inhabitants of Oxford now ; again, 
it is interesting as an example of military architecture of that period, 
of which the examples are so few and far between, not only in this 
country, but on the continent also ; it is interesting, too, perhaps, 
from the fact of it serving a double purpose, namely, that of protecting 
the city and yet connected with a church : lastly, it is interesting from 
a purely architectural point of view. 

It will not be out of place here, perhaps, to say a few words on 
some of these points. On the evidence for the history of the building 
and the association with Robert D'Oilgi's name, sufficient perhaps 
has been already said; and that it guarded the north gate, the way 
into Oxford mostly requiring protection against the enemy, is sufn- 


ciently proved from the line of wall and ditch, as well as from the 
name which the church received later on, viz. St. Michael's at North 
Gate, to distinguish it from a little chapel which seems to have been 
erected at a later period near the south gate of Oxford \ 

But while the appearance is much more like that of a church tower 
than the tower of the castle, there is a feature which is especially worthy 
of attention, namely, a small round-headed doorway, about five feet 
high, and little more than two feet wide, which exists at the north side 
of the tower, at twenty-seven feet from the ground. It is hidden on the 
exterior by the chimneys of the house built against it, and so is probably 
entirely overlooked by most visitors ; but it is well seen and readily 
accessible from the interior, and has the jambs and each abacus 
complete. The use of this there can be but little doubt is the same 
as that of the arches, now blocked up with masonry, at the very 
top of the castle tower, some sixty feet from the surface of the 
ground, and which have already been referred to as being constructed 
for the purpose of giving access to the 1 hourdes ' or wooden galleries 
which projected from the wall 2 . The reason for the gallery in 
S. Michael's tower being on a much lower level than that in the castle 
tower, was that it might guard the approach to the gateway adjoining, 
while in the castle the tower had to command the river and a much 
more extended line. 

It is difficult at this distant date, and after so many alterations have 
taken place, to decide where the wall or rampart joined the tower. 
Following the ordinary rule of fortification, it would abut on the eastern 
side, but leaving the tower slightly projecting on the north. 

On the south side, however, the masonry shows that there had been 
a building of some kind abutting against the tower, and, still visible 
in the masonry, there are marks of an original doorway, the base 
of which would have been about twelve feet from the level of the 
ground. Also, by taking into account the line of the old ditch found 
during the recent excavations in the yard of the Ship Inn, and also 

1 In reference to S. Michael's Church and Chapel at the north and south gate 
respectively, as also to there being a S. Peter's Church in the eastern part of Oxford 
and another in the west, there is a Latin distich as follows : — 

' Invigilat porta australi boreaeque Michael 
Exortum solem Petrus regit atque cadentem.' 
'At North-gate and at South-gate too S. Michael guards the way, 
While o'er the east and o'er the west S. Peter holds his sway.' 
The distich is probably not earlier than the fourteenth or fifteenth century, but the 
first occurrence has not been definitely traced. 

2 See ante, p. 210. 

S 2 


the line of the wall on the west, it must be admitted that there is 
some reason to suppose the tower wholly projected from the north 
side of the rampart, and that the rampart was continued along the 
south side of the tower, and that the doorway at twelve feet from the 
ground opened upon this rampart. In time of siege the soldiers would 
be able to pass from the rampart into the tower, which was no doubt 
provided on the interior with wooden staircases, and so reach the 
projecting ' hourd ' on the north side, whence, if the suggested plan 
is correct, they would command the ditch on the right, and the road- 
way in front of the gate on the left. 

The traces of one more original doorway should be observed, 
namely, on the west side, and level with the street. From this door- 
way access would be gained from the road into the basement storey of 
the tower. But whether the wall abutted against the eastern side of 
the tower, or was carried along under the southern side, a great 
difficulty arises in fixing upon the site of the church. In the eleventh j 
century a church tower was, as a rule, either central or at the west end, ■ 
and when the latter was the case, the tower arch, opening into the j 
church, was an important feature, and generally bore distinctive marks 
of the Romanesque style. Here there is no trace of any such arch, j 
but a fourteenth century arch, which, so far as can be judged, does not 
take the place of any pre-existing arch of such a size as would have 
existed had the church occupied the eastern end. In other words, the 
evidence points to the tower not having been a western tower ; and it 
could not have been a central tower, but to being a detached tower, 
such as the tower was in the castle ; and though possibly provided 
with bells, and having much more of the appearance of a church tower 
than its companion, still it was not part and parcel of the church which 
stood at the north gate, such as it is now. 

On looking at the plan it will be at once seen that the wall has been 
extended on the north so as to include the church ; but the precise 
time when this was done it is difficult to determine. It may be con- 
jectured however that the last extension was in the fifteenth century, 
for the wall (and opportunity was given recently of examining it to the 
foundations) was found to be scarcely two feet thick, while the main j 
city wall, as seen at the end of Turl Street, was close upon nine feet 
in thickness. 

The existing tower windows, it will be observed, present what are 
called mid-wall shafts, of the type which occur at Jarrow, Monkwear- 
mouth, and in other early architectural examples. In the cases named J 
they were probably the distinguishing feature which made the venerable j. 


Bede speak of those buildings as being erected more Romano 1 . Truly 
Romanesque before the style had developed into Norman, they stand 
as important landmarks in the history of architecture ; for while they 
were erected under the superintendence of the Norman Constabularius 
who came over with the Conqueror, yet they were not more Norman 
in style than buildings which had been erected for centuries previously 
in the country. They point to the fact that although our intercourse 
with Normandy accelerated, and possibly in a measure influenced the 
development of our national style of architecture, we did not import 
that style from Normandy. It is dangerous, with the few remains we 
possess, and still fewer records which directly interpret the history of 
those remains, to compare the tower of S. Michael's with other exist- 
ing towers, and the architectural details of the same with those of 
other buildings, but it may be said to represent the architecture of 
the close of the eleventh century, before the long-and-short work at the 
angles, with the rest built of rubble, gave way to the more expensive 
but more lasting mode of building with surface ashlar masonry 
throughout ; also before the plain pierced arch with a mid-wall shaft 
gave way to the splayed Norman window or to arches with orders 
duly recessed, such as eventually developed into the rich Gothic work 
with their series of mouldings. And further, it is to be noticed that 
the mid-wall shafts of S. Michael's are in the most perfect state of pre- 
servation, inasmuch as regards three of the windows they have only 
been exposed during the last few years 2 . 

The next entry in the Survey relates to the fifteen mansions held 
by the Canons of S. Frideswide. These mansions again were probably 
part of the endowment of the monastery in Oxford, either given by 
wealthy residents or possibly built by the community on land which 
they had acquired. Houses were not unfrequently given on the con- 
dition that for the rest of the donor's life a 1 corrody/ that is, sufficient 
maintenance, and perhaps an annual sum of money, should be secured 
to him by the monastery ; and it is possible that some of the tenements 
of S. Frideswide had been already obtained in this way, as the 

1 Beda, Hist. EccL lib. v. cap. 21. 

2 About ten years since, partly with a view of lightening the weight of the tower, 
as it was, in spite of the iron clamps, in a somewhat dangerous condition, and 
partly with a view of improving the effect, the parish proposed to open the 
windows, which had been long blocked up. To the satisfaction of every one, the 
mid-wall shafts were found perfect. This had not been anticipated, and can only 
be explained from the circumstance of the abacus in each case having been broken 
by the pressure of the superincumbent mass, in which state each was found, and 
therefore probably soon after their erection the windows were walled up to prevent 
further giving way of the masonry above them. 



documents show that many were so obtained after the eleventh 

But S. Frideswide's, as has been already said, does not appear to 
have been prosperous. We find no parish church in Oxford at this 
time which there is any reason to suppose had been built under its 
auspices or in any way belonged to it, and the property in Oxford- 
shire was still exceedingly small compared with that of other existing 
monasteries, or with that which it acquired in Henry the First's 
reign. As to the church itself, not a vestige exists of the old work, 
the whole having been rebuilt, or at least been begun to be rebuilt, 
under Prior Guimond at the beginning of the next century 1 . 

In the Domesday Survey all that we find is under the heading { No. 
xiv. The Land of the Canons of Oxford and of other Clerks' It runs 
as follows : — 

'The Canons of S. Frideswide hold 4 hydes of the King near 
Oxford. They held it in King Edward's Time. The land five Caru- 
cates. There 18 villani have five ploughs and 105 acres of meadow, 
and eight acres of spinney. It was and is worth 40^. This land never 
paid tax ; neither does it belong, nor did it belong to any hundred. 

' Siward holds of these same Canons 2 hides in Codeslaav. Land for 
two ploughs, which are there now. It was and is worth 40s. It 
belonged and does belong to the Church V 

As to the four hydes near Oxford, it is dangerous to assign to them 
any definite place. Indeed it is not clear that it includes the precincts 
of the nunnery. It has already been suggested that it does not neces- 
sarily follow that the land was all in one part, and might possibly 
include some on the western side of Oxford at Binsey. At the same 
time it will not be overlooked that three hydes adjoining to the eastern 
side of Oxford are expressly referred to in the charter of King 
Ethelred granted a.d. 1004 3 , namely, a piece of land on the north 
bank of the Thames, stretching from the Cherwell on the west, to 

1 The site is of course the same, or rather nearly so. It will be remembered 
that the author of the life of S. Frideswide speaks of the tomb of that saint having 
been moved. Whether he had any evidence for saying it was moved in the time of 
King Athelred may be doubted. See ante, p. 101. 

2 The remaining entries under the same heading refer to the holding of a certain 
Osmund the priest, of land at Chertelintone (Kirtlington) ; of Brun, a priest, of 
land in Cadewell (qy. Adwell) ; of Edward, also probably a priest, the place of 
whose holding is not named ; and of Rannulf Flambard, of land in Middleton 
(perhaps Middleton Stoney), and who has been already referred to as probably 
first a clerk and afterwards a Bishop. See ante, p. 255. Appendix A, § 99. 

3 See ante, p. 143. 


Iffley on the east, and bounded by Bullingdon and Cowley on the 
north 1 . 

The land which they held on the north of Oxford, known as Cutslow, 
and which also was part of the grant of King iEthelred, it will be 
seen, they had leased to a certain Siward. This is not an uncommon 
name amongst the tenants in the time of King fidward, and occurs in 
several counties. But in Oxfordshire there is an entry under the 
King's thanes 2 respecting a certain Siwardus Venator, i.e. the king's 
'hunter,' who holds from the king 2 \ hydes at Cedelintone (i.e. Kid- 
lington). The record adds, ' This Siward held it freely in the time of 
King Edward. Probably from his abilities as a huntsman he was 
allowed to retain his land, but de rege and not libere as before, and it is 
clear that he found it convenient to farm the neighbouring land of 
the Canons of S. Frideswide in the adjoining manor of Cutslow.' 

The land however at Cutslow 3 held by S. Frideswide had not in- 
creased in value. It had belonged to S. Frideswide's before the 
Conquest, and it belonged to it now ; in other words, the conduct of 
the occupants of the monastery or of its lands had given no excuse to 
the Conqueror to despoil them of their property 4 . 

We now come to the names of the tenants, who may be for the 
most part considered to be actually occupiers of the houses in Oxford, 
for it will be observed that out of the thirty-eight thirty-two represent 
occupiers of a single house. The names may be said to be all 
English names 5 , but we are met by the circumstance that they are 

1 The question as to the extent of these lands can only be discussed by taking 
into account the confirmation charters of the next century. 

2 LVIII. Terra Ricardi et aliorum ministrorum Regis. Domesday, fol. 160 b, 
col. 2. 

3 The following is an instance of the obscurity in the entries in the Domesday 
Survey arising from their terseness. Though we find Siward holding 2 hydes from 
S. Frideswide's in Cutslow, we find later on (fol. 159 a) under XXIX. Terra 
Rogeri de Iveri, 'Aluredus Clericus tenet de R[ogerio] Codeslave' There are 
there three hydes, &c. It must be assumed that these three hydes held by the 
* clerk ' from Roger of Ivry are distinct from the two hydes held by the ' huntsman ' 
from the Canons of St. Frideswide's ; and we must infer that the whole manor of 
Cutslow, represented at the present day only by a few farm buildings, consisted of 
five hydes. The value of Roger of Ivry's three hydes had increased from three 
pounds to four pounds. The two hydes belonging to St. Frideswide's were origin- 
ally valued at two pounds, and are declared to be of the same still. However 
much is left to conjecture ; very few words more would have made all clear. 

4 This circumstance ought to have suggested itself to Thierry, when he describes 
the action of the monks of S. Frideswide's at the siege of Oxford. See ante, 
note 2, p. 195. 

5 William perhaps might be taken as an exception, but whether or not English- 
men by birth, there were several Williams in the country in the time of Edward 
the Confessor. 



given as a rule, unfortunately, without any designation, and further, 
they are names of tolerably frequent occurrence in various parts of the 
country, so that there is very little means of identifying the owners 
with others bearing the same name. Coleman, the first of the series, 
held three mansions, and is referred to as being dead, other occupiers 
presumably having been found for his houses ; it is a name not un- 
frequent in the neighbourhood ; he may, perhaps, be identified with one 
of the original holders of the six hydes at Cestitone (Chesterton), in 
Oxfordshire, which were now held from the king by Aluric, and which 
Coleman and Azor had once held 1 ; or with one of those of Sewette (?) 
in Berkshire, which had been confiscated to the Earl of Evreux, but 
which Coleman and Brictward had held of King Eadward 2 . Some 
little time after, that is, early in Henry the First's reign, one of the 
houses in question was purchased by Abbot Faritius of Abingdon. The 
following is the entry in the chronicle of that abbey, in reference to the 
revenue being set aside for, the use of the occupation of the infirmary 
there, and though as to date it belongs to the next century, the 
passage so directly concerns the houses referred to in the Survey that 
it must be given here. 

' Since the brethren who were sick, and who had been bled were 
without fire, the same Abbot Faritius with the consent of the 
whole chapter granted all the rents of the undermentioned mansiones 
which he himself had bought in Oxford, so far that when it was 
needed there should be a fire supplied to the Infirmary, and he granted 
this for the salvation of his own soul, and out of compassion on the 
sick ; and whoever shall render this of none effect let him be anathema. 
These are those mansiones with their rents : — 

The land of Wlfwi the fisherman, five shillings and eight pence. 

The land of Ruald, five shillings and two pence. 

The land of Derman the Priest, seven shillings and two pence. 

The land of Coleman, eight shillings. 

The land of Eadwin the Moneyer and his brother, five shillings. 
And whosoever shall take away this benefit from the sick, let him be 
a stranger to God, and an exile from his kingdom for ever V 

The Abbot Faritius had also purchased other houses in Oxford. 
One of Roger Maledoctus yielding fifteen shillings, and one of Peter, 
who had been formerly sheriff (vice comes), of nine shillings ; and one of 
Derman, of three shillings 4 . 

1 Domesday, folio 161 a, col. 1. 2 Ibid, folio 60 a, col 1. 

3 Chron. de Monasterii de Abingdon, Rolls Series, vol. ii. p. 154. Appendix A, 
§ 100. 

4 Chron. Mon. Ab. vol. ii. p. 153. The exact date cannot be determined, but 
it was before the death of Abbot Faritius in 1117. Ibid. p. 41. 


It will be seen that the name of Coleman appears in this list, 
and others will be referred to hereafter ; although the term - terra ' is 
used, it included the mansions, as the text of the charter states, 
and the heading of the list and the value of rents received prove. 
It will be observed that the property, which in the Domesday Survey 
was assumed to pay three shillings and eight pence, was producing to 
the abbey a rental of eight shillings. 

Next in the list we find a certain William, a name which is some- 
times found as that of the holder of lands in the time of King 
Eadward, but more frequently as holding property qud undertenant in 
the Conqueror's reign. In a very large number of cases we find a 
surname added, or its equivalent, e. g. Willelmus filius Azor ; 
Willelmus Diaconus, &c. If, however, we attempt to determine who 
this William was, we are met with many difficulties. That there was 
a William of Oxford is clear, a man of some note, and apparently at 
one time the sheriff of Oxfordshire. Amongst the charters granted by 
Henry the First respecting certain demesne lands at Abingdon there 
are two which are addressed to William of Oxford and one addressed 
to W. Vicecomiti de Oxenford 1 . But it would be too much to say that 
the William whom we find here holding a single house in Oxford 
was the same man, though it is not impossible ; for the same William 
who was afterwards made sheriff was very likely the William who 
appears as undertenant of three hydes at Thame (Sawold holding 
four, and he held also houses in Oxford), of three hydes at Middleton, 
and of five hydes at Banbury, all being held under the Bishop of 
Lincoln ; of two hydes at Hansitone (Hensington, near Woodstock), 
and three hydes at Rowsham, under Roger of Ivry ; also twelve hydes 
in Chestertone, eight more hydes in Hensington, and three hydes in 
Advella (Ad well, near Watlington), all under Milo Crispin. There is 
also a Willelmus, a subtenant in Berkshire, who holds some seventeen 
hydes at different places under Milo Crispin, and therefore probably 
the same, and some six or eight under others 2 . This, on the one hand, 

1 Chron. Mon. Ab. Rolls Series, vol. ii. pp. 86 and 87. Both charters are dated 
* in Natale Domini ' at Westminster, but the year is not given. There is some 
reason however to think it was Christmas Day, 1102. For the charter (ibid. p. 80) 
no material is given to fix the date, but it was probably about the same year. 

2 There were several tenants named William who held land in the neighbour- 
hood ; for the name after the Conquest became exceedingly common. For in- 
stance, in the Abingdon charters we find, besides those of that name holding 
offices in the abbey, there was William the son of Anskill, another the son of 
Ermenold of Oxford, another the son of Abbot Rainold of Abingdon, another the 
son of Turold, and another the nephew of Earl Hugh. All were living in Henry I's 
reign, and some had been benefactors to Abingdon. 


may reasonably be the holder of a house in Oxford, and on the other 
may reasonably have been thought worthy of the appointment of sheriff. 

The name of Spracheling does not occur elsewhere, while Wulwi, 
the fisherman's house, has already been noted amongst those afterwards 
bought by Abbot Faritius. Alwin is not an uncommon name ; but in 
this case it is highly probable that the holder of five mansions in Oxford 
was the holder, in the time of King Eadward, of several mansions in 
the county, and that they had for some reason been confiscated, and 
perhaps the five houses were all he had saved from the wreck. An 
Alwin had, together with Algar, held Combe, near Woodstock, now in 
the hands of the Bishop of Bayeux ; Amintone (Emmington, near 
Thame), now in the hands of Walter Gifard ; Whitchurch, now in the 
hands of Milo Crispin ; and together with Sawold, land in Alwoldesberie 
(? Albury). Also an Alwi who was sheriff held land at Bletching- 
don \ It will be observed that there are other separate entries of 
an Alwin, one holding a house which was entered as void, another 
holding a house which appears to pay nothing (the name being 
written Alwi), and one who does not pay because his house repairs 
the wall, and one a priest (whose house also pays nothing). How far 
any or all of the four last are to be identified with each other or with 
the Alwin who holds the five mansions it is impossible to say, but 
from the irregular manner in which the Survey is compiled, the repeti- 
tion of the name does not necessarily involve there being five different 
persons of the same name in Oxford. 

Edric is a common name amongst the tenants in the time of King 
Eadward in Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk, but this name does not 
occur in Oxfordshire. It is, however, found in Berkshire, as holding 
Sparsholt, and Stanford in the Vale, in the time of King Eadward 2 . 
Under Sparsholt there is an interesting reference made to Edric's son 
being a monk of Abingdon, and in one of the Abingdon charters, 
relating to land in Oxfordshire, this Edric is referred to as the 1 homo ' 
of Droco of Andelys 3 . 

Harding appears to be a name unknown in Oxfordshire in the time 
of King Eadward, though one at that time held some amount of 
property in Wiltshire and Leicestershire. We hear, however, of one 
of his houses in a singular manner. The toll of a hundred herrings 

1 See ante, p. 257. It is not stated of what county he was sheriff. By implica- 
tion it would be Oxfordshire. 

2 Domesday, fol. 59 a, col. 2, fol. 61 a, col. 1. 

3 Chron. Mon. Ab. Rolls Series, vol. ii. p. 68 ; and this Droco, who must have 
been a neighbour of the Poeni family on the Seine (see ante p. 247 note), seems to 
have been a benefactor to S. George's in the Castle ; Chron. Mon. Ab. p. 143. 


being the customary payment annually from the Oxford boats for using 
the Abingdon water in their way down the Thames, has been already 
referred to \ It seems disputes occurred, though the custom had been 
already confirmed by Henry I.; writs were issued to his sheriffs of Berk- 
shire and Oxfordshire in n 1 1, and, to follow the words of the chronicler, 
' pleadings respecting this matter were instituted in the said city of 
Oxford, in the house of Harding the priest, and by the common decree 
of the authorities (majorum) of the same place it was adjudged in 
favour of the church of Abingdon 2 .' 

We learn from this that there had been a Harding at Oxford who 
was a priest, and further, that one of the houses which still bore his 
name was of sufficient importance for a court to be held in it. And 
more than this, his name has already appeared as a benefactor to 
Ensham Abbey, apparently in connection with St. Ebbe's Church ; for 
one of the charters, dated 1109, recites, 'that Harding, of Oxford, 
had given two houses there, one within and one without the wall; 
and that he had gone to Jerusalem, and there died 3 . Whether these 
two or either of them are to be identified with the Harding, who, with 
Leveva, had nine houses, may perhaps be doubtful. 

No documents exist associating the name of Leveva with Harding. 
Later on it will be observed that a certain Leveva had a single house 
separately which paid ten pence, in the time of King Eadward, but was 
now void. The name occurs not unfrequently, though not in Oxford- 
shire. At Wallingford Leveva held l a haga valued at two pence, 
while at Reading the church which had been given to Battle Abbey 
had formerly been held by Leveva an Abbess 4 . Denchworth also, 
which Robert of Stratford had obtained, had been held by Leveva, 
quaedam libera femina. It may be added, however, that the name also 
occurs as if it were that of a man ; e. g. in Bedfordshire we find Leveva 
Homo Regis Edwardi. 

The form Ailric appears in several counties both before and after 

1 See ante, p. 214. 

2 Chron. Mon. Ab. vol. ii. p. 119. 3 See ante, p. 243. 

4 It has been imagined by the Reading historians that the foundation of which 
Leveva was abbess was in that town. «There was a religious foundation of some 
kind there, which the original charter of Henry I. refers to, in conjunction with 
i Cholsey and Leominster, as having been destroyed by the Danes. But there are no 
? grounds for saying that it was a nunnery, nor is it very likely, if destroyed in or 
j about 1006, a house would be returned in 1086 as having belonged to its abbess. 
1 1 It was much more likely that the name mentioned in connection with Battle Abbey 
I refers to Leveva the abbess of Shaftesbury, who is so returned in the time of King 
j Eadward. It does not follow necessarily that the religious house at Shaftesbury 
j held it, for the abbess might have held it in her own personal right. 


the Conquest, i.e. amongst those who held lands in King Eadward's 
time, and those who appear as undertenants in William's time after the 
land was confiscated, but not in Oxfordshire. There was, however, 
an Alric in Oxfordshire, who together with Alnod held the manor of \ 
Celeford (Chalford, near Aston Rowant), which afterwards fell to j 
Henry of Ferrieres. Besides this form of the name, there is Elric, j ' 
tolerably frequent, and closely allied to it is Aluric, which is more ' ! 
frequent still. 

Two houses belonging to a Derman have already been noticed j 11 
amongst those which Faritius bought for Abingdon Abbey some few 
years after the date of the Survey ; and we gather from the note that 0 
one of these Dermans, like Harding, was a priest, his house paying j 1 
seven shillings and twopence ; the house of the other paying only three ! ^ 
shillings 1 . And it will be observed that the name of Derman occurs Sl 
later on in the Domesday list associated with a certain Brictred in the j ^ 
possession of another house, and so the two houses may perhaps i B 
represent the purchases made by the Abbot Faritius. The name | 1 
Brictred occurs only once in the Domesday Survey, and then as aj ^ 
thane of Earl Eadwine in Worcestershire, though the name Brictric 
is very frequent and occurs in most counties. j ' 01 

We then have a 1 Segrim,' and the Survey distinctly refers to 'another i * 
Segrim,' and a little further on a third of this name holds three houses. J {l 
Although the form Segrim is not often found, the name Sagrim is to 
common enough in some counties, but not in Oxfordshire. The ^ 
name of Smewin occurs in Somerset, and Goldwin occurs in Sussex H 
in the time of King Eadward, but they do not appear anywhere as ^ J 
undertenants, except as holding the houses in Oxford. As to Eddid, ! M 
it is impossible to suggest anything, for not only are the entries in *' 
the Domesday Survey of the name of the Queen Eddid very frequent, I to 
but also many other persons are so called ; the forms too of this name to 
are so varied that it is difficult always to recognize it. To go no further tin 
than Domesday, we find the forms Edded, Eddeda, Eddeva, Eddeve, im 
Eddida, Eddied, Eddiet, Eddiva, Eddive, Edeva, Edid, Edied, Ediet, i (He 
and Ediva, and they seem to be promiscuously used for perhaps as \ 
many individuals as there are forms of the name. ' Nil 

We then have a Swetman, but there are three others of that name, 
only one of whom is distinguishable, namely, the Moneyer. The ' 
name is rare, both as a tenant in Eadward's Time, and as an under- \ 

7 if! 

tenant at the time of the Survey. The mention of a moneyer, however, ^ 
is interesting, as affording documentary evidence that there was one 

1 See ante, p. 264. 


established at Oxford plying his business as early as the Conqueror's 
reign ; but the evidence of coins themselves, which have been dis- 
covered, carries the history of coinage at Oxford several reigns back, 
and the total number supposed to have been struck at Oxford make so 
considerable a series, that the subject deserves separate treatment. 
Without trespassing however upon such, it may be said that amongst 
the specimens in existence there is one preserved in the British 
Museum, bearing a king's head, full-faced, crowned, which is ascribed 
to William II., and on the reverse is spetman on oxi 1 . 

Sewi is a name rarely found. Alveva, on the other hand, is very 
common. It will be remembered that Alveva was the wife of Earl iElfgar 
and mother of Earl Morkere, and her name occurs in the Survey so 
distinguished, while there are several others bearing the name. Pos- 
sibly the lady named in the Oxford list had been the tenant of Am- 
brosden in King Eadward's time, as that is the only place where the 
name occurs in Oxfordshire. Alward is found as a tenant at Dench- 
worth and Shottesbrook in Berkshire, and a sub-tenant under Robert 
P'Oilgi at Str atone in Oxfordshire (i.e. Stratton Audley, near Bicester) 2 . 

Derewen has not been met with elsewhere, but the name Leuric is 
found very frequently as a tenant in King Eadward's time, and 
occasionally as an undertenant in William's time ; but of the latter no 
case occurs in Oxfordshire. It has already been noticed, when referring 
to Alwin, that a Leuric and an Alwin held Whitchurch freely in King 
Eadward's time, which had now been confiscated to or purchased by 
Milo Crispin, and a Leuric also held Wigentone (i.e. Wiggington, near 
Banbury) freely in King Eadward's time, now in the hands of Wido 
D'Oilgi 3 . And besides this it will be found that in the list of Tenentes 
in Capite in Oxfordshire there is a William Leuric (No. XL VI) holding 
three hydes and one virgate of the king, but the compiler of the Survey 
has omitted to give the name of the place where the land was situated 4 . 
The form of Wluric is written generally Vluric, and is very common 
in many counties. It is very probable that the manor of Redrefeld 
(Rotherfield), which had fallen with so many others to Milo Crispin, 
belonged once to the owner of the house in Oxford 5 . But it is not 
without interest to note that the Domesday Survey for Kent, under the 

1 It is perhaps hardly necessary to point out that the P is the old Saxon form of 
the W ; and this is interesting to note, as showing that English forms of letters as 
well as language were continued to such a degree that the king's English moneyer 
adopted the English letter on his Norman master's coin. 

2 Domesday, fol. 61 a, col. I, 63 b, col. i, and 158 a, col. 2. 

3 Ibid. fol. 160 a, col. 1. * Ibid. 160 a, col. 2. 5 Ibid. 159 a, col. 2. 


lands held by the canons of St. Martin's Church, Dover, in referring to 
a certain prebend, adds that 4 from the prebend the Bishop of Bayeux 
took eight acres and gave them to Alan, his clerk; now Vlric of 
Oxeneford has them.' There would seem some reason for identi- 
fying this with one of the Wlurics holding a house in Oxford. 

The name of Godwin is perhaps one of the most frequent amongst 
the tenants in King Eadward's time, but in William's time there are 
comparatively few undertenants of the name, and fewer still tenentes in 
capite amongst the King's thanes in Oxfordshire. However, there is 
one who holds of the king two virgates and a half in Nor tone 1 (i.e. 
Chipping Norton), and who may be the same as the holder of the 
mansion ' which pays nothing.' 

Ulmar's name occurs but rarely, and nowhere near Oxford. Goderun 
occurs nowhere else, and may be an error on the part of the tran- 
scriber. The name of Godric, like that of Godwin, is very common 
amongst tenants in King Eadward's time, represented by many under- 
tenants in King William's time, and by very few tenentes in capite. In 
Oxfordshire a Godric held originally Chedintone (Kiddington), after- 
wards held by Hascolf Musard ; and together with Alwin held 
Letelape (?) which fell to the wife of Roger of Ivry. Amongst the 
undertenants in King William's reign we find a Godric, the owner 
of one hyde in Sevewelle (Showell, near Swerford) under the Bishop of 
Bayeux. In Berkshire the sheriff was named Godric, and as he died 
fighting in the great battle, all his lands had been confiscated 2 . 

Sawold, like Harding and Leveva, held as many as nine mansions. 
As there was a Sawold holding manors as a tenant in King Eadward's 
time, and as undertenant in King William's time in Oxfordshire, 
possibly one may venture to identify him with the holder of the houses 
in Oxford. Sawold, together with ' Aldwin and Edwin,' held Alwold- 
esberie (? Albury) afterwards held by Walter Fitz Ponz. In King 
William's time he held direct of the king Ropeford (Rofford, near 
Chalgrove), but a note is added to this entry : ' Robert D'Oilgi has 
this land in pledge {in vadimonio).' At Thame he held four hydes 
under the Bishop of Lincoln, and five hydes at Stoke (probably Stoke, 
near Checkenden) of the fee of the church of S. Mary of Lincoln. 
Besides this it would appear that Sawold must have occupied the post 
of sheriff of Oxfordshire at some time in William's reign, for amongst 
the Westminster charters there is one relating to Marston, near Oxford, 
beginning : — 

1 Domesday, fol. 160 b, col. 2. 

2 See ante, p. 245. 


< Willem King gret Bundi stallere and Sawold Sirefen, and alle mine 
thegnges on Oxnefordecire freondlice V 

The above then is the list of names with which, according to the 
Domesday Survey, the city of Oxford may be said to have been asso- 
ciated. Some attempts have been made with regard to the first part 
of the list, which includes the tenants in chief, who held manors in 
the country and in the district, to show that these holdings in Oxford 
corresponded to some extent to those manors in the shire. It has not 
been considered that these persons were to be looked upon in any 
sense as residents in Oxford, or especially connected with Oxford 
further than that, since the list represents the majority of holders in 
chief of the property in the neighbourhood, disputes respecting that 
property would probably bring them to Oxford, in all cases when 
they could not safely trust the matter to their subordinates. 

How far the facts adduced are sufficient to show the connection 
between the mansions and the manors, and how far the large propor- 
tion of the manors held by a given tenant in chief, explain the cause 
of his holding so many mansions in Oxford, is left to the reader's 
judgment. On any other grounds than those suggested it is difficult 
to account for such a distribution of houses in a town, and further the 
key-note seems to be struck by the opening paragraph relating to the 
king's houses, regarding which the older geld-roll would have been 
more likely to be complete than as regards others ; as to which the 
commissioners were perhaps dependent on imperfect rolls, or on oral 
tradition. In this entry of the twenty-five mansions, five are dis- 
tinctly stated to be appropriate to the several manors, of which the 
names are given ; and so at the end of the list of the mural mansions 
two are said to belong to Hampton and Bletchingdon. 

It will have been seen that amongst the tenants in chief are some 
of the largest land-holders in the country, while some few of them are 
recorded to have played a prominent part in the history of these 
times. In the brief notes upon the manors held by them it will have 
been seen how their property was scattered as a rule over the whole 
kingdom, and by a summary even of the manors held in the county 
it will have been observed how their property was still further dis- 
persed, seldom two manors lying together ; the same man holding 
property in the extreme south of the county as well as in the extreme 

1 Westminster Cartulary MS. Cotton Faustina, A III. folio 112 b. Printed in 
Dugdale, ed. 1846, vol. i. p. 301. The name of Bundi occurs not unfrequently in 
Domesday as a tenant. T. R. E. See e. g. in Oxfordshire, folio 157 b, col. 1. 


north. At the same time it is felt that in bringing these considerations 
together the difficulties in arriving at a true view of the confiscation of 
the lands at the Conquest are rather illustrated than explained. The 
surveyors name the previous tenants in only a few cases, and no light 
seems to be thrown upon the matter of distribution from this source 
since, as far as can be observed from the imperfect data, the property 
of one tenant in the Time of King Eadward seems as a rule to have 
been distributed to several different tenants in the Time of King 

It has been supposed that the second half of the list, that is, the 
names connected with the forty-five manors, represent those of the 
actual tenants, that is, the occupants of the houses, and that they may 
therefore be reckoned as citizens of Oxford at this time. A few notes 
have been added here and there; but while on the one hand the 
references to the names found elsewhere are confessedly imperfect, on 
the other hand the identification of the names with them when so 
found is as a rule purely conjectural. Taking the series however as 
a whole, they seem to illustrate in a measure what might easily be con- 
jectured from other considerations, that several tenants in chief in the 
Time of King Eadward, came to be under tenants in the Time of 
King William ; a few, very few, and those entered amongst the king's 
thanes in the Domesday Survey l , seem by purchase or favour to have I 
retained something of their former estate. 

The list however cannot, it is feared, be said to represent the chief 
citizens of Oxford. Though the number of the burgesses is frequently 
named in other towns, the Survey here is silent, merely intimating that 
twenty burgesses in the Time of King Eadward went for the others 
when the king called upon them to go on an expedition. Further, 
the list must represent a very small proportion of the occupants ; for 
we do not know any of the names of those occupying the houses 2 
held by the King, the two earls, the bishops, the abbeys, and the j 
Conqueror s followers, in all a hundred and thirty-six houses, many I 
of which must have been as large if not larger than those referred to 
afterwards; besides this, for the remaining forty-five houses, we 
have only the names of thirty-seven occupiers. 

And yet, if we look elsewhere amongst the few documents existing 
at this time, we find that it is very difficult to add any appreciable 

1 Domesday Survey, No. lviii. folio 160 b. 

2 The total of these houses is 217, but there were 81 waste. This total does not 
include the eighteen houses of priests and canons (of which nine were waste), or of 1 
the 62 houses held by the supposed occupants, of which seventeen were waste. 


number of names to those given in the Survey. For example, in the 
list given by the Abingdon Chronicle of the houses purchased in 
Oxford, the rents of which, in the next reign, were set aside for the 
use of the infirmary of that abbey 1 , we find that out of five names 
three, viz. Wlfwi, Derman, and Coleman, are the same we have had 
already. Ruald and Eadwin only are new names. It must be borne 
in mind that this document belongs to the early part of Henry I's 
reign, and some fifteen years or so had elapsed, so that Ruald may 
be a new comer ; still, as we find in a grant made to Ensham Abbey 
by Robert D'Oilgi of 'totam Mam terram quam tenet de eo Rualdus in 
Oxeneford* 1 , it is quite possible that he was the occupant of one of 
D'Oilgi's twelve mansions. In the Abingdon list also Eadwin is 
found, named as the moneyer, and this seems to point to the fact 
that Swetman was dead or had been superseded ; and it will be 
observed that Eadwin' s brother also is mentioned. 

In the same list of purchases, which Faritius had made ' in Oxen- 
fordia urbe] there was the land with the houses of Roger Maledoctus. 
We find elsewhere in the Chronicle an account of his gift in Henry 
the First's reign, but we have no means of knowing how long before 
he had become possessed of the houses. It seems he came to the 
chapter of the monks of Abingdon, together with his wife, named 
Odelina, and gave ' terram cum domibus quas in Oxenford habehant V 
Part of their bargain was that they should both be buried in the 
church at Abingdon, which is very suggestive of the low estimate in 
which S. Frideswide's was held by them. 
I In the same list also the name of Peter, the sheriff of Oxfordshire, 
I occurs, as owning a house in Oxford. This Peter must have held 
I the post of sheriff soon after the time of the Domesday Survey, for 
I there is a writ issued to him apparently at the beginning of William 
I Rums' reign 4 . This writ also refers to Eadwi, his praepositus, which 
I may perhaps mean the Port-reeve of Oxford for the time being ; it is 
I just possible too that this is the same as Eadwi the moneyer, men- 
Itioned above, for Eadwi and Eadwin are no doubt the same name ; 
■though, if it was the same person, he probably would not have held 
I the two offices at one and the same time. 

I The mention of ' Saulf ' of Oxford, in Domesday, under Wallingford 5 , 
I 1 See ante, p. 264. 

■ 2 From the Ensham Cartulary. Printed in Dugdale, vol. iii. p. 21. We 
I further find that amongst the signatures to that grant occurs the name of Nicholaus 
melius Sawoldi. 

I 3 Chron. Mon. Ab., ii. p. 139. 4 Ibid. p. 41. 

1 5 Domesday, folio 56 a. See ante, p. 228. 

■ T 


may be added to the list of names connected with Oxford, unless 
indeed it be a variety of the name Sawold: while the names of 
William Fitz Nigel, and Gilbert of Damari will also have been observed 
as having given their Oxford houses to Ensham, and, as has been 
suggested, towards the endowment of S. Ebbe's Church \ 

Also in a suit early in King Henry the First's reign (before 1 1 1 7) 
we find that the Abbot of Abingdon held his court ' apud Oxeneford in 
domo Thomae de Sancto Johanne*.' The circumstances also attend- 
ing Ermenold's suit and his house, • juxla pontem Oxeneford*' belong 
to the next century ; but the house may well have been standing in 
the eleventh century. 

Again, though it is trespassing somewhat upon the material of the 
next century, the list of the tenants here given of the houses granted 
to Oseney Abbey, by the charter of foundation in 11 29, carries on 
some of the names already given, as well as gives others who may 
have been living in the houses when they were counted in the Survey. 
The grant includes : — 

* Within the town of Oxford, the lands which the following held, 
Engeric, Reimund, Godwin, Ailnoth, Edwacher's son, Ermenold, 
Godwin Nicuma (?), Sweting Cadica (?), Ravenig, Segrim By wall 
{juxta murum), Henry Corveiser, Leofwin Claudus, Godwin the 
moneyer, Brichtrec the moneyer, Godric, William Ralph the baker, 

Leofwine Budda, Geoffrey the miller, and near the castle of 

Oxford, beneath the wall, one mansion which belonged to Warine 
the chaplain 4 .' 

Many of these early names too are very constant in Oxford. For 
instance, in the charter by King Stephen confirming the property 
which S. Frideswide's had acquired during Henry the First's reign, 
we find the houses of Ailwin, Sewi, Editha (a widow), Saul (possibly a 
contraction of Sawold), Golde[win], Godric, and Alwi ; while the names 
of Segrim and Sewi constantly occur in deeds relating to S. Frideswide's 
property. And if we go on further, even to the Hundred Rolls in the 
course of the inquisition taken in Edward the First's reign, we still 
find the names of Edric, Harding, Segrim, Sewi, Godwin, and Swet- 
man as those of resident citizens of Oxford, and several have survived 

1 See ante, p. 243. 

2 Chron. Mon. Ab., ii. p. 134. Thomas of St. John appears to have been 
appointed Sheriff of Oxfordshire. Ibid. 119. 

3 Chron. Mon. Ab., ii. pp. 140, 141, ad. 196. 

4 Printed in Dugdale, vol. vi. p. 251. The original is in the Oseney Cartulary 
(Cottonian Vitellius E. xv.), and though the edges are burnt it happens to be quite 
legible. The titles nicuma and cadica are puzzling. It will be observed there 
are two new Moneyers. 


3 even to far later times. The name Sewi again survives in Sewy's 
'! Lane, as will be seen in the recent map of the Ordnance Survey 1 , 
^ though it does not follow that it dates from the Sewi living in the time 

0 of William the Conqueror. 

Taking then the Survey of Oxford Domesday as a whole, and 
') j bringing to bear upon it what illustrations charters or other docu- 

1 ments provide, and reading it by the light of existing remains, 
i- it presents to us a town measuring about half-a-mile from east to 
ig | west, and a little more than a quarter-of-a-mile (about 480 yards) 
in from north to south, fortified and compact. Domesday, it will have 

been observed, tells us that dues from certain houses were set aside 
16 1 for the keeping the fortifications in repair, and draws a clear distinction 
:d between the houses within and without the wall 2 . Moreover it is re- 
n ferred to in one place as a city (civttas) 3 , a name rarely given to towns, 
ij From the survival through mediaeval times of the line of the fortifica- 
7. tion we can fairly judge of the extent of the town, and the number of 

houses being given, we are able to form some idea of the general 
id, I aspect. Compared with the time 4 when ^Ethelred, ealdorman of the 

Mercians, took possession of Oxford in 912, much which was then 
^ perhaps still pasture land and woodland had given way to houses with 
J their gardens, until the whole of the plateau of the gravel promontory, 
0 [ the sloping edges of which are washed by the Thames on the south 
ine and west, and by the Cherwell on the east, had in 1087 come to be 

occupied by habitations 5 . 
: or Some of the chief features however were no doubt the same. The 
ttj main roads, the sides of which were more definitely marked by houses 
gn, than they were before, so that they were now streets, still followed the 
va old lines, meeting in the centre at Carfax, and at the far western 

nes 1 The i ane led from New Inn Hall Street by S. Michael's Schoolhouse into 
je's Cornmarket Street, crossing through where Messrs. Grimbly and Hughes' premises 
^ were built. By neglect the right of way seems to have been lost. It was for a 

time called Shoe Lane. 
Still j 2 Note also the 'thirty acres of meadow near the wall,' ante, p. 225. 
m I 3 Molinum quem infra civitatem habebat. See ante, p. 219, but in the next line 
i but three it runs In ipsa villa. So far as has been observed, the only towns 
throughout the whole of the Domesday Survey to which civitas is applied are Can- 
terbury, Gloucester, Worcester, Hereford, Shrewsbury, and Chester. 
4 See ante, p. 11 9-1 2 2. 
leen s The plateau may be reckoned to be about 36 feet above the level of the river 
beneath Folly Bridge, the slope being, as a rule, uniformly gentle throughout ; the 
most rapid part of the slope is that between the site of South Gate (at the south- 
laij western corner of Christ Church) and Carfax, being something like 24 feet in 280 
nitt yards, while from the ground just below the Castle Mound on the way to the 
KB Station the rise to Carfax is about 24 feet in 500 yards, and from the High Street, 
by the turn to Long Wall to Carfax, only 24 feet in the 700 yards. 

T 2 


extremity of the town beneath the slope there still rose the Castle 
mound. But the ditches here had probably been deepened, and the 
earthen vallum had no doubt been faced with stone work, and 
perhaps in places surrounded by a stone wall ; while along the western 
edge overhanging the river there now rose the great tall tower, a more 
conspicuous object than the mound itself, and no doubt the wonder 
and admiration of the citizens. 

The view of the Castle as given by Loggan, though some allowance 
must be made for the effects put in by the artist, probably represents 
most of the chief features as they existed at the close of the eleventh 
century. In after years the more imposing fortification of Henry the 
Third's time, and the greater amount of buildings had no doubt much 
changed the aspect and obscured the original landmarks ; but when in 
the seventeenth century these additions had been swept away, leaving 
the deep ditch with the water standing in it, the Vallum, the Mound, 
the Tower, and the Mill as the chief objects, the artist was able to 
draw, and has drawn a picture as closely representing the appearance 
which the Castle presented in the eleventh century as possible. He 
has perhaps exaggerated the high rising ground on the outer edge of 
the castle ditch on the north side, and which appears to have been the 
place of execution, and called the Mont de juis ; at least it is not 
probable that it existed at the time of the Survey of such a size as to 
endanger the safety of the castle. It has now been almost levelled. 
Its position would be on the northern side of the enclosure occupied 
by the Canal wharfs, lying between the New Road and the western end j 
of George Street. It is very possible, however, that in deepening the 
ditches in the Conqueror's time a large quantity of soil was thrown out 
here, just as the excavation of the original ditch had provided the material 
for the Castle Mound. Further, the artist has represented a row 
of houses on the outer edge of the Castle ditch, on the eastern side 
towards the city, with what is now Bulwarks Lane curving round 
behind them and forming a street ; while the houses have their little 
gardens at the back lining the outer slope of the ditch, and trees 
growing on either side of the stream beneath. It is not improbable 
that some such appearance may have presented itself in the eleventh 
century ; as long as the gardens did not interfere with the fortification 1 ,' 
the tenants might in time of peace have been allowed to use the 

1 The plan of the Castle engraved by Skelton {Oxonia Antiqua Restaurata, 1843, 
pi. 127) from the drawing, temp. Elizabeth, in possession of the Dean and Chapter 
of Christ Church, shows the houses also with their gardens. They are shown 
partially in Agas map, but they are not so numerous. In continental towns it 
not unusual to see the slopes of fortifications utilized for garden purposes. 


ground, though in time of siege the houses themselves might have 
been, if thought necessary, wholly swept away. 

At the time of the Domesday Survey the view of the town, with a 
much increased number of buildings, concentrated within a well- 
defined boundary, would have at first sight presented a marked con- 
trast to the few groups of habitations clustering 'round the north side 
of S. Frideswide's, or scattered over the sloping ground between the 
Castle ditch and the central spot where the roads crossed, such as 
would have been seen a hundred years before. Further, the fortifi- 
cations must have been of a more imposing character, and though 
we have only evidence of the two tall towers of the Castle and of 
S. Michael's, guarding the west and north of Oxford, it would be rash to 
say that the east and south gates were not so guarded. It is true the 
north gate was the most liable to be attacked, but the east and south 
were still liable. Again, it is hard to think that they were the only 
two towers which rose from amidst the town of Oxford, where so 
many churches existed already 1 . 

But with all the growth of buildings, if much stress is laid upon the 
returns made by the inhabitants when they were to be taxed, con- 
cerning the number of houses which were vastae, nearly five hundred 
must be supposed to have had closed doors, or their roofs fallen to 
decay, or indeed perhaps presenting in some cases only bare walls, 
while less than two hundred and fifty were in such a habitable state as 
to pay the tax ; the town, if this were so, must have presented to the 
visitor so forlorn an aspect that it might have appeared more busy and 
prosperous in the days when Eadward the Elder took possession of it 
and fortified it. But it would be a mistake to lay too much stress 
upon these returns, since so many contingencies, as already pointed out, 
are included under the word vastae. The population of a thousand, 
the number suggested, would, as towns went in those days, present a 
1 busy scene. Already the roads had given way to streets, and the 
I houses dotted about, each for the most part with a garden behind it, 
Lor sometimes standing clear within its plot of ground 2 , were thus so 
j distributed that their varied roofs of tiles or wooden shingles, or stone 
j slabs, would have given an aspect of a populous town. Although too 
it is difficult to judge of the kind of business which was done, it may 
j be fairly considered that more took place in the open-air in proportion 
to what takes place there at the present day; that is, many more 
I people would be seen in the streets and open spaces, in proportion to 

1 As to the tower of S. Frideswide's in 1002, see ante, p. 148. 

2 See ante, p. 256, note 5. 



the population than is now the case; and this would add life and 
brightness to the scene. 

The chief market-place probably occupied an important position 
near the centre of the town, if not at Carfax itself, though we do not 
find a notice of it in any of the few records which we have belonging 
to the century \ The existence of the market may be assumed as a 
matter of certainty, though we do not definitely hear of it till we find 
in Henry II's reign disputes arising between the market men of 
Oxford and of Wallingford on one side, against the market men of 
Abingdon on the other, the former evidently considering that the 
ancient privileges of their market had been invaded by those which 
the men of Abingdon had, through the interest of the Abbot, obtained 
from the Crown 2 . 

And again as to the fairs ; it is not till the reign of Henry I that 
we find a charter professing to be granted by the king to the com- 
munity of S. Frideswide to hold a fair for seven days, with especial 
privileges belonging thereto; but then it was that S. Frideswide's 
monastery was arousing itself from its lethargy, and obtaining as many 
privileges as possible ; so that it would be most unreasonable to sup- 
pose that fairs existed in Oxford then for the first time. 

As already pointed out, we obtain in contemporary records few if any 
mention of trades in the town 3 ; we have only the mills, the gardens in j 
Holywell manor, and the business of Wulwi the fisherman mentioned, 
yet other trades and occupations were no doubt in existence, though 
accident has prevented record of them. There must have been bakers 
and brewers and butchers then as well as now, and though for pur- 
chasing clothes, crockery, household utensils and the like, the citizens 
waited till fair time, and there were but few if any shops, such as we 
have in abundance now, still there must have been tailors and 
carpenters, and smiths, though no record of the name of even one has 
been handed down. 

There must also have been at times a great deal of business going 
forward connected with the peace and welfare of the town, and in a 
case of this kind we may fairly gather something from the light which 

1 In the next century the land of Ralph Brito is described as ' infra forum 
Oxcneford siiam,' Chron. Mon. Ab., ii. p. 212. 

2 'Adierunt regem istum Henricum juniorem Walingefordenses, cum iis de 
Oxcneforde de foro ei Abbendonensi suggerentes quoniam aliter esset quam esse 
deberet,' &c. Chron. Mon. Ab., ii. p. 227. 

3 The earliest charter referring to a Gilda Mercatoria which has been observed, 
is one by Henry III (1229); but as it is a confirmation of previous liberties, it 
implies a previous existence. 


after history reflects back on this period. We may consider that the 
town meetings took place in the open space, then existing on the 
north side of Carfax church, and in bad weather it is not impossible 
that much was transacted in the nave of the church itself 1 . 

Amongst other things it will be seen by the Survey 2 that sixty pounds 
had to be provided as an annual payment to trie king, but probably 
payable by quarterly instalments, and the provision each quarter for 
the sum required must have entailed much discussion, and much busi- 
ness connected with the assessment of such taxes, whence the money 
was to be obtained, and in the administration of such property whence 
revenue was derived towards supplying the sums needed. 

Further it has already been shown that from Oxford being a shire 
town, many of the manors in the county, and several in the adjoining 
counties possessed houses there, in order that their owners or tenants 
could find a residence when they came to transact the various business 
which must necessarily take place in the management of large proper- 
ties, and settle those differences which must be constantly arising where 
rival interests are at stake. 

Gemots and courts of several kinds therefore were constantly being 
held in Oxford, but from the few references to their practical working 
which we have left to us, and the imperfect summaries of the laws in 
force at that time which have been preserved, it is difficult to distinguish 
the various forms of procedure, or ascertain how often various courts 
were sitting. In the laws which King Eadward the Elder (904-24) 
issued, he decreed as follows :— 

* I will that each Reeve have a gemot always once in four weeks, and 
so do that every man be worthy of folk-right 3 .' 

i This is repeated in the laws of King Eadgar (959-75), and in a series 
I of additional laws belonging to the same king we find : — 

' Let the hundred gemot be attended as it was before fixed, and 
thrice in the year let a burh-gemot be held ; and twice a shire-gemot^? 

And in the laws of King Cnut, the references to the shire and burh- 
; gemots are in almost exactly the same words, and there is good reason 
I to suppose that this series of laws are in substance those which were 

decreed at Oxford in 1018, when ' Danes and Angles were unanimous 

I 1 That churches were at times used for purposes of administering justice in 
various ways is evident. Amongst the laws of Eadward the Confessor it is decreed, 

1 ' Et si barones sint qui judicia non habeant ; in hundredo ubi placitum habitum 

' fuerit, ad propinquiorem ecclesiam ubi judicium regis erit, determinandum est. 
salvis rectitudinibus baronum ipsorum.' Thorpe's Ancient Laws, &c, vol. i. p. 446. 

I 2 See ante, p. 223. 

i 3 Thorpe's Laws and Institutes of England. London 1840, vol. i. p. 165. 
I 4 Ibid. vol. i. p. 269. 



for Eadgar's law 1 , and that these various gemots were continued during 
the Conqueror's reign is shown by their being virtually repeated in the 
laws of Henry the First 2 . 

It may be presumed that at one of these gemots the set of laws 
especially relating to Oxford, which are found enrolled at the end of 
the king's manors in Oxfordshire in the Domesday Survey, were pro- 
mulgated. These few laws are expressed as follows : — 

' The king's peace given under hand or seal ; if any shall break it 
so that he kill a man to whom this peace has been given, his members 
and life shall be at the king's will if he be taken, and if he cannot be 
taken, he shall by all men be counted as an exile ; and if any one shall 
succeed in killing him he shall lawfully have his goods 3 . 

£ If any stranger choosing to live in Oxford, and having a house 
independently of his parents, shall there end his life, the king shall 
have whatever he has left. 

' If any shall break or enter into the court or house of any one, so 
that he knock down (? occidat), wound, or assault a man, he pays to the 
king one hundred shillings. 

' Likewise he who when summoned to go 4 on expedition,' does not 
go, shall give one hundred shillings to the king. 

' If any shall have killed [interfecerit] any one within his own court or 
house, his body and all his substance are in the king's power, except 
the dowry of his wife if she shall have had a dowry V 

It is difficult to see why these five laws should be especially enacted at • 
this time and place. It looks rather as if they were judgments which 
had been given as cases which had occurred, perhaps recently,, or 
during the then sheriff's tenure of office, and which he thought it 
good to have enrolled; for there is reason to think that Domesday 
Book was looked upon as a Dom-boc, or book of decrees (domas). 
It will be observed that the second law mentions Oxford by name, 

1 See ante, p. 161. 

3 1 Debet autem scyresmot et burgemot bis, hundreta vel wapentagia duodecies in 
anno congregari.' Thorpe's Laws, &c., vol. i. p. 514. 

3 The 'king's peace' here especially referred to is mentioned at the head of the 
list given in the laws of King Eadward the Confessor, 'Pax regis multiplex est. 
Alia data manu sua quam Anglici vocant Kinges hand-sealde gHth. Alia per 
breve suum data. Alia, &c, &c.' (Thorpe, vol. i. p. 447.) There does not appear 
to be any special law previously enacted relating to the breach of the king's hand 
grith apart from the breaking of the king's peace generally, though the expression 
is frequently found. Note especially Thorpe, pp. 167, 319, 359, 453, 454> an d 
518. This Oxford law however is afterwards incorporated into the laws of 
Henry I. in the following terms : ' Qui pacem regis fregerit, quam idem manu sua 
dabi alicui, si capiatur, de membris culpa sit' (ibid. p. 585). At the same time it 
is uncertain how far the compilations which go under the name of Leges Regis 
Htnrici Primi, were ever authoritatively promulgated. 

• Domesday, folio 154 b, col. 2. Appendix A, § 101. 


as if it was applicable solely to this town; the case may perhaps 
have arisen from some one, probably an Englishman driven out from 
some other town, who had come and taken up his abode in Oxford, 
and without friends or relations. The third law seems at first sight 
a repeal of one of those laws of King Cnut, which, as already said, 
were possibly decreed at Oxford on the occasion mentioned in the 
Chronicle. In those laws 'house-breaking,' that is Hus-bryce, was 
decreed, according to secular law, to be bof-fess 1 , while here the fine 
is fixed. But there may be some special circumstance in this case 
which the terse language in which the law is laid down does not ex- 
plain. The word ' occidat,' too, probably has the meaning of knocking 
down, and does not involve killing, since it is put in the same category 
as vulneret and assaltat, and is therefore to be contrasted with inter - 
fecerit, which occurs in the fifth law relating to similar offences. 

The fourth of the series also seems to be in a measure connected 
with the succeeding laws as they stand in the series enacted by King 
Cnut above referred to, since it defines the penalties for neglecting 
any one of the three obligations imposed by the trinoda necessitas, 
i.e. of fortification, making of bridges, and going on expeditions. 

The law of King Cnut stood as follows : 

' 66. If any one neglect " burh-bot," or " bricg-bot" or "fyrd-fare" ; 
let him make " bot " with one hundred and twenty shillings to the 
king by English law, and by Danish law as it formerly stood ; or let 
him clear himself,' &c. 2 

In this it would seem that though Cnut's laws recognized the English 
law as the guiding principle, there might be occasions on which the 
Danish law might be administered. What the bot under the Danish 
law was does not seem to be ascertainable ; but here we seem to have 
William the Conqueror's law promulgated in Oxford, reducing the fine 
imposed by Cnut's law and agreed upon in the same city, from 120 shil- 
lings to 100 shillings. But the promulgation of this law at Oxford has a. 
further significance in illustrating the passage in the Domesday Survey, 

1 Laws of King Cnut, No. 65. < Hus-bryce .... sefter woruld-lage is bot-leas.' 
(Thorpe, vol. i. p. 410.) 

2 Laws of King Cnut, No. 66. ' Lif hwa burh-bote oththe bricg-bote oththe fyrd- 
fare forsitte gebete mid hund-twelftigum scill tham cyningce on Engla-lage and on 
Dena-lage swa hit ger stod oththe geladige hine,' &c. (Thorpe, vol. i. p. 410.) This 
law is practically repeated in the compilation of laws known as those of Henry I, 
viz. under Cap. LXVL as follows : ' Si quis burcbotam vel brig botam vel fierdfar 
supersederit emendet hoc erga regem cxx. solidos in Auglorum laga ; in Denelaga 
sicut stetit antea vel ita se allegiet/ &c. No notice seems to be taken of the revised 
Oxford law in this respect. But, as already pointed out, there seems much reason to 
suppose the laws of Henry I. to be for the most part a mere unauthorised compilation. 


in which the law of Eadward the Confessor ran that twenty burgesses 
should go, or pay a fine of £20— that is, twenty shillings per man. By 
the issue of the law by the Conqueror it seems the fyrd-fare was con- 
tinued in Oxford, and that the fine for neglect was practically 100 
shillings per man. Still, with so little material on which to base conclu- 
sions, it is impossible, perhaps, to suggest any very definite hypothesis 
for the appearance of these five laws in the Oxford Domesday. 

We incidentally obtain in another of Cnut's Oxford laws a hint that the 
shire gemot was a sort of court of appeal. One law runs as follows :— 
■ And let no man take any distress either in the shire or out of the 
shire before he has thrice demanded his right in the hundred. If at 
the third time he have no justice, then let him go at the fourth time 
to the shire-gemot, and let the shire appoint him a fourth term V 

Other minor courts are sometimes mentioned : — 

* Moreover let there not be " miskenninga " in Husteng, nor in 
Folkesmote, nor in other pleadings within the city. And the Husteng 
shall sit once in the week, that is to say on Monday V 

Though certain details are given as regards things to be done in Folc- 
mofe 3 , it is not made clear what relation it bore to the others. The 
War demote* is also found incidentally mentioned. The Hustings Court 
has existed in Oxford down to quite recent times ; the proceedings 
of which, from the time of Edward II to that of Charles II, are 
enrolled in the Liber Alius preserved in the City Archives 5 . 

There is another name also which has been observed applied to 
a particular court held in Oxford, namely, the Portmanni-mot, and 
though the reference is to proceedings early in the following reign, 
the circumstances of the case show that the name was a survival, 
and not a new name introduced after the Conquest. The Abingdon 
chronicler, after describing a judgment concerning Ermenold's house, 
already referred to as being in the south of Oxford, adds, ' And after- 
wards it (i. e. the judgment) was shown in Portmannimot and agreed to 
in the same manner, and according to the same arrangement 6 .' 

1 Thorpe, vol. i. p. 387. 

3 Temp. Henry I. Thorpe, vol. i. p. 503. As to the term Miskenninga, Ducange 
defines this, following Brompton, as Variatio loquelae in curia. It seems to mean 
that a change of issue during proceedings in court was provided against ; in other 
words that all counts must be set forth before the proceedings are instituted, and 
in some cases in later years the word seems to be applied to the mulct which was 
demanded for the offence of such mispleading. 

3 Temp. Henry I. Thorpe, vol. i. p. 614. 

4 Temp. Henry I. « Et terras suas, et wardemotum, et debita civibus meis 
habere faciam infra civitatem et extra.' Thorpe, vol. i. p. 503. 

5 See Turner's Selections from the Records of the City of Oxford, 1880. 

6 ' Sed et postea in Portmannimot ostensum et concessum eodem modo et eadem 
conventione est.' Chron. Mon. Ad., vol. ii. p. 141. 


But, besides these, we find several instances in the following reign 
of courts held in Oxford by the Abbot of Abingdon 1 or the Abbot of 
Ensham, and such courts were no doubt frequently held ; and probably 
lords of manors, so far as they had right to do so, found it con- 
venient on occasions to hold their court in the shire town. 

The business then at all these courts, whether connected with the in- 
terests of the king or with that of the town or of the county as a whole, 
or of the various manors which made up the county, must have caused 
not only much concourse among the towns-people, but large numbers 
from the country would visit Oxford; rich litigants did not travel 
alone, but brought their servants and often considerable retinues with 
them. Besides, there was a large amount of criminal procedure to be 
got through affecting individuals, and though perhaps a good deal 
would be disposed of near the place where the crime may have been 
committed, there must have been a considerable residue to be got 
through in the chief county town. 

The Castle too, in which no doubt a guard of some number was 
kept, to be at the bidding of Robert D'Oilgi, would as a rule show 
signs of activity. Probably here soldiers would be seen constantly 
coming and going, for the country in many parts was very unsettled 2 . 
At such a central spot as Oxford, no doubt a good supply of cavalry 
was retained in case of emergency, and they would probably exercise 
in the great meadow called the King's Mead, which lies on the south 
of the Botley Road, and which Robert D'Oilgi was accused of 
taking from Abingdon Abbey. 

Probably not much was gained to the activity of the town as yet, 
from the ancient foundation of St. Frideswide. Still the monastery 
must have had an existence and probably an extensive enclosure, and 
there must have been monks to be seen going to and fro, and the 
sound of bells at stated times would be heard, if not from a tall tower, 
at least, from something of the nature of a steeple 3 . Oseney, which 
was afterwards to occupy the island meadows beyond the Castle out- 
side the farthest western extremity of the town, did not yet exist. 

The town, as will have been seen, was already well supplied with 
churches. When we add together the names of those which we 
obtain incidentally from the Domesday Survey, and those which we 

I glean from other sources, including S. Frideswide 's Church itself, we 
find we have in all eight in number from the several sources. 

1 A copy of one of the licences from the King, viz. that granted to Abbot Vincent, 

I I temp. Hen. I, is preserved. Chron. Mon. Ab. ii. p. 165. 

2 See ante, p. 204. 

3 As to the tower of S. Frideswide, see ante, p. 148. 


1. S. Frideswide ... (a.d. 757) S. Frideswide Cart. 

2. S. Martin ( „ 1034) Abingdon Chron. 

3. S. George ( „ 1074) Oseney Cart. 

4. S. Mary Magdalen ... ( „ 1074) Ibid. 

5. S. Mary the Virgin ... ( „ 1087) Domesday. 

6. S.Michael ( „ „ ) Ibid. 

7. S. Ebbe ( „ „ ) Ibid. 

8. S. Peter ( „ „ ) Ibid. 

The question arises, was the town as yet mapped out into parishes ? 
A priori on the building of a church, a district would naturally be 
assigned to it. In the country, as a rule, the churches had been built 
by the lords of the manors, and the manors formed the parishes, but 
in towns the growth of parishes and their sub-division may often have 
been gradual. Looking at the map, and comparing it with the list of 
churches above named, we see that a parish belonging to King Cnut's 
church, dedicated to S. Martin, must have occupied the same general 
position which it does now, namely the centre of the town, and 
possibly of much the same extent, comprising as it does small portions 
of each of the four quarters into which the two main streets divide the 
town. S. Michael's parish must also have occupied the district be- 
tween S. Martin's and the north wall of the city as it does now. 
Robert D'Oilgi's church of S. George in the castle probably served 
for the inhabitants on the western slopes between S. Martin's parish, 
and the Castle ditch, while S. Ebbe's Church, which the energy of 
Ensham Abbey had given to Oxford, supplied those inhabitants 
whose houses lay between the others and the south wall. 

On the eastern side of the street leading down to the south gate, 
S. Frideswide's no doubt would be supposed to administer to the 
spiritual wants of the population around it, and may indeed, perhaps, 
have extended its jurisdiction over to the western side of the same street, 
while in the north-eastern quarter of the town Earl Alberic's church, 
dedicated to S. Mary, and to the east of it Robert D'Oilgi's church 
dedicated to S. Peter, may be supposed to have exercised a juris- 
diction over all but the small portions belonging to S. Michael's and 
S. Martin's. At the south-eastern coiner of the city, the portion 
lying on the east of the precincts of S. Frideswide may have perhaps 
been partly within the jurisdiction of that monastery, and partly of the 
parish church of S. Peter's on the other side of the street. 

S. Mary Magdalen's Church, being wholly without the north gate, 
took in the suburb to the north of Oxford, while that of S. Peter's 
would have taken in the suburb of Robert D'Oilgi's manor of Holywell. 


S. George's would have supplied any houses which had been erected 
beyond the Castle ditch, on the northern and western side, while on the 
southern side, or beyond the southern wall, in this direction any 
habitations would readily have found themselves beneath the influence 
of the Church of S. Aebba. 

Such an outline represents then the division bf Oxford according to 
the list of eight churches "which we find actually recorded as definitely 
existing before the close of William the Conqueror's reign, but it must 
not be denied that one or two considerations render it doubtful 
whether, after all, the above completes the list of the churches which 
Oxford possessed at the time. For the reign of William Rufus, and 
for the first few years of Henry the First's reign, there is a singular 
absence of records. But soon after the restoration of S. Frideswide's 
we find a charter professing to be given by Henry the First 1 , reciting 
all the churches in which S. Frideswide's held any rights. Including 
chapels, they are nine in number, and it will be observed that only one 
of them, namely S. Michael's at north gate, is common to the two 
lists. Of course it is possible that eight more churches should have 
been added to Oxford between 1087, the date of the Domesday Survey, 
and before the close of Henry the First's reign, a period of nearly 
fifty years, but still it is not probable ; it may therefore be supposed 
that some of them existed earlier. The names, however, and a few 
remarks upon the evidence for the early origin suggested for some, 
may not be altogether out of place, in considering the number of the 
churches in Oxford before the close of the eleventh century. 

The list runs as follows : — 

The Church of All Saints. 
The Church of S. Mildred. 
*The Church of S. Michael, ad portam Borealem. 

1 The signatures are wanting to the charter, and it must not be overlooked that 
in the title and style of the king at the commencement, the charter might as well be 
ascribed to Henry the Second as to Henry the First. At the same time the rubric 
in the S. Frideswide Cartulary, prefixed to the charter, runs Sequitur prima carta 
Henrici primi ; unless his copy had a date or signatures the compiler or transcriber 
might have been easily misled. Kennett, in his Parochial Antiquities (ed. 181 8, vol. i. 
p. 125), includes it under the year 11 32. Antony a Wood appears to give through- 
out his references 11 22, but the evidence for either of these dates has not been 
observed. There are reasons however, why some doubt must be thrown upon 
the date ascribed by the copyist if not upon the genuine character of the charter. 
See e.g. post, p. 292. The question is further complicated by the fact that a charter 
purporting to be given by the Empress Matilda, dated from Oxford, and with the 
signature of Robert Bp. of London (appointed 1141) and Robert of Gloucester 
(who died 1145), and which must therefore, if genuine, have been granted in 
1 142 when Matilda was besieged in Oxford, contains exactly the same list almost 
in the same words. 



The Church of S. Peter, ad Castrum. 
The moiety of the Church of S. Aldae. 
The Chapel of S. Michael, ad portam Australem. 
The Church of S. Edward. 
The Chapel of the Holy Trinity. 
Without the city, the Chapel of S. Clement. 
It is to this confirmation charter of Henry the First that the compiler 
of the S. Frideswide's Cartulary invariably refers for the origin of 
the churches in which the monastery had any direct interest. He 
evidently had found nothing whatever referring to any earlier event, or 
of an earlier date than this one charter ascribed to Henry the First. 
To show this it is only necessary to transcribe the rubrics which he 
has inserted at the head of the divisions of the Cartulary which 
refer to the respective parishes ; they run as follows : — 

i i. Memorandum that the Church of S. Frideswide possessed the 
Church of All Saints through {per) Henry the First, formerly King of 
England, as appears above in the foundation [in Fundatione], &C. 1 

' 2. Notandum that the Church of S. Mildred was collated to the 
Church of S. Frideswide, with the other churches and possessions as 
in the foundation, &c. 2 

1 3. Memorandum that the Church of S. Peter in the Castle 
(S. Petri ad Castrum) was given to the Church of S. Frideswide by 
King Henry the First, as appears in the charter of the same and in 
the foundation, &c. 3 

' 4. Sciendum that the Church of S. Michael was collated to the 
Church of S. Frideswide at the foundation of the same, as appears 
above in the foundation, &c. 4 

' 5. Notandum that Henry the First, King of England, gave to the 
Church of S. Frideswide the moiety of the Church of S. Aldate 
(S. Aldathi), in Oxon 5 , and this, as above, in the foundation, &c. 

'6. Memorandum that the Chapel of S. Michael [i.e. at South 
gate] was given to the Church of S. Frideswide at the first establish- 
ment (in prima creatione) of the Regular Canons there, as appears 
above in the foundation of the place, &c. 6 

< 7. Memorandum that the Church of S. Edward was granted to 
us by Henry, formerly King of England, as appears above in the 
foundation, &c. 7 

' 8. Notandum that the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, over the 
East gate (supra portam Orient a lem), together with its appurtenances, 
was collated to the aforesaid church [i.e. of S. Frideswide] by 
Henry the First, formerly King of England, as appears above in the 
foundation 8 . 

1 Cartulary of S. Frideswide in possession of the Dean and Chapter of Christ 
Church, folio 407. 2 Ibid, folio 482. 3 Ibid, folio 399. 

* Ibid, folio 437. 6 Ibid, folio 357. c Ibid, folio 337. 7 Ibid, folio 325. 

8 Ibid, folio 453. This rubric stands as the head of the parish of S. Peter in the 


1 9. Sciendum that Henry the First, formerly King of England, 
gave to the Church of S. Frideswide the Chapel of S. Clement, as 
appears above in the foundation, &C. 1 ' 

Although in the above series of Rubrics there are one or two 
which, if taken singly, might seem to imply that there was more 
material on which the writer based his statements than the one 
charter of Henry the First, which is given at the beginning, taking 
them as a whole, the variations must be ascribed partly to the arts 
which a chronicler uses in writing, and partly to the desire to connect 
the grants with the king's authority, which of course would weigh 
much in their favour in courts of law. Supposing then for a moment 
this document to be genuine, and that it points to a confirmation of 
the property in churches held by S. Frideswide at that time, it proves 
the churches to have been in existence early in the twelfth century, but 
by no means disproves the earlier existence of the church before 
the date of that charter, or even before the date of the revival of S. 
Frideswide's about 11 20, because it was not at all unusual to transfer 
churches which had been already erected by private benefaction to 
the care and authority of some religious house. If it is a forgery it is 
of course left still open to suppose that some of the churches might 
have been in existence before the close of the eleventh century, but on 
the other hand, that some of the churches named did not come into exist- 
ence till the close of the twelfth or beginning of the thirteenth century. 

It has been supposed for instance that the circumstance of a 
church being dedicated to S. Mildred, an English saint, points to that 
church being erected before the Conquest. The view of course is 
based upon the supposition that after the Conquest the chief bene- 
factors to churches would most likely be those who were wealthy, and 
who had come over with or been favoured by the Conqueror, so that in 
most parts of the country the English saints which had hitherto 
been popular would be forgotten ; while as regards the popularity of 
S. Mildred there could be no question. The Abbess of the church of 
Minster, on the southern shore of Thanet (which was then more of an 
isle than it is now), died towards the close of the seventh century of a 
lingering illness. The church and conventual buildings over which she 
had presided, suffered like the rest throughout the kingdom, during the 

1 Cartulary of S. Frideswide, folio 493. It may be noticed that there is no rubric 
of this kind in regard to the parishes of S. Martin, S. Ebbe, S. Mary Magdalen, or 
S. Mary the Virgin. Though the monastery had property in each parish the com- 
piler has not thought it necessary to add any introductory notice. As the head 
rubric to S. Giles' Parish there is the reference to one hyde of land in Walton in the 
Parish of S. Giles, ' as appears above in the foundation, &c.' 


Danish incursions, and in the time of Cnut, i. e. 1030, the remains 
were translated to S. Augustine's Monastery at Canterbury. A monk 
of that monastery, named William Thorn, who compiled a chronicle 
c. 1390, has preserved to us an account of the translation, with 
details showing in what high veneration S. Mildred was held. Thorn 
begins by reciting a charter of King Cnut, which grants the body of 
S. Mildred to S. Augustine, which is supposed to be dated 1027 \ He 
then, to all appearance copying the register, gives exact dates first when 
Abbot Elstan translated the body of S. Mildred, viz. on the 15 Kalends 
of June (May 18), 1030, to his monastery, and buried it in front of 
S. Peter's altar ; and next when Abbot Wulfric, on enlarging his church 
translated it again into S. Augustine's Chapel (por/z'cus), viz. on the 
Eve of S. Leonard's Day (Nov. 5), 1037. Still, writing evidently from 
the register, he notes that when Eadward [the Confessor] succeeded, in 
1043, the same year he confirmed all that King Cnut had done as 
to the Manor of Minster 2 . 

William of Malmesbury, writing c. 1125, bears testimony also to the 
honour in which S. Mildred was held after her remains were trans- 
lated in 1030. He writes : — 

' Mildritha dedicating herself to a life of celibacy, came to the end of 
her days [at Minster] in the Isle of Thanet in Kent, which King Egbert 
had given to her mother In after years, when she was trans- 
lated to the monastery of S. Augustine at Canterbury, she was 
honoured with exceeding assiduity on the part of the monks, the fame 
of her piety and that of her gentleness towards all (as her name implies) 
being equally thought worthy of their praise. And although almost 
all the winding passages throughout that monastery are filled with the 
bodies of saints, and those neither of slight fame or merit, and any of 
which would be sufficient to shed lustre over England, yet than none 

1 * Notum sit vobis omnibus me dedisse Sancto Augustino Patrono meo, Corpus 
Sanctae Mildredae, gloriosae virginis cum tota terra sua infra insulam de Thanet et 
extra,' &c. Printed in Decern Scriptores 1652, col. 1783. It is possibly an early 
forgery, but based on documents then in possession of the Monastery, and valu- 
able so far for historical purposes. 

2 Decern Scriptores, cols. 1783-1 784, Thorn, under the year 1262, when he men- 
tions the final translation of the body into the shrine in which it now lies, gives a 
full account of S. Mildred. There are some earlier notes relating to the life of the 
saint compiled by Goscelin in the eleventh century ; additional material relating 
to S. Mildred is also given in the chronicle of Thomas of Elmham, who wrote 
somewhat later than Thorn, but has preserved copies of many older documents. 
See Historic, Monast. S. Augustini Cantuariensis , Rolls Series 1858, pp. 215, 217, 
22 5, 289, &c. Capgrave devotes several pages to the expansion of the biographical 
details of the life of this saint. 


is she less honoured, and at the same time she is more tenderly beloved 

and remembered than all V 
Before the date of this translation no churches would be dedicated 
in her honour, but either in Cnut's time or early in Eadward the Con- 
fessor's time there would be, on account of the popularity of the saint, 
a reason for a church being dedicated to her ; and as King Cnut appears 
to have been instrumental in the erection of S. Martin's Church here, 
it might be argued that he founded S. Mildred's Church also. Were 
it not for the chance preservation of the single charter in the Abingdon 
Chronicle, we should have known nothing of S. Martin's Church, as 
the Domesday Survey is absolutely silent with respect to it ; and since 
all records belonging to S. Frideswide have been lost, and no records 
of the churches founded by individuals were kept, there is no reason to 
expect any mention of the foundation to exist On the other hand, 
it must be admitted that though dedications to English saints may have 
gone out of fashion, still there is no reason whatever why some bene- 
factor in Oxford, after the eleventh century, may not have, for particular 
reasons, either from being a native in the Isle of Thanet, or connected 
with S. Augustine's, thought proper to dedicate his church to this saint. 

Five churches only however are known to have been dedicated in 
her honour. One at Canterbury, one at Preston near Wingham in 
Kent, two in London, and one at Whippingham in the Isle of Wight. 
That at Canterbury was perhaps erected soon after the translation of 
the relics. V ery little of the original structure remains, but sufficient 
to show that a church had stood there of a date anterior to the twelfth 
century 2 . Preston lies half-way between Minster and Canterbury, in 
a direct line, and would possibly be the place where the body rested 
on its way. Of the two churches in London, one is in Bread Street, 
the other is in the Poultry 3 ; it is needless to say that no early remains 
exist ; moreover, no record has been observed which implies an early 
foundation. Of Whippingham also data are wanting 4 on which to base 

1 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, Liber II. § 215, Eng. Hist. 
Soc. 1840, vol. i. p. 369. Appendix A, § 102. 

2 There seems to be no reference to it in the numerous documents and chronicles 
relating to Canterbury except in a MS. in C. C. C. C. (Miscell. G. p. 307), De 
Ecclesiis fundatis ante adventum Normannorum in Angliam. In this occurs, 
' In australi parte civitatis infra muros abbatia in honore beate Mildrithe statuitur 
cujus ultimus abbas Alfwicus.' Printed in Dugdale, ed. 1846, vol. i. p. 128. This 
seems to bear out what the remaining portions of ancient structure suggest. 

8 They are thus referred to in the names of the city benefices 31 Edw. I : 
' Sancta Mildreda in Poletria cum Capella de Conehop. Sancta Mildreda in 
Bredstrate.' Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis > Rolls Series i860, p. 229. 

1 It appears, however, to have been granted by William Fitz Osborne to the 
Abbey of Lire soon after the Conquest. The present structure is modern. 




any theory as to its erection. No remains whatever of S. Mildred's 
Church in Oxford are in existence; it is believed that the very 
foundations have been dug up, and that no evidence remains by 
which the exact site can be traced. Allowed to go to ruin in the 
later years of the fifteenth century, both Exeter College and Lincoln 
College have taken in portions of the churchyard, the pathway across 
which, being a public way, survives in Brasenose Lane. On the whole 
therefore the church of S. Mildred may have existed in the eleventh 
century, but may not have existed till the twelfth. 

If S. Eadward's Church is dedicated to S. Eadward the Martyr \ who 
was assassinated in 979, the date may be carried back to a time before 
the Conquest ; for in the reign of King Cnut his remains 2 , so at least the 
Abingdon folk claim, were translated to that monastery. As in the case 
of the translation of the relics of S. Mildred, such would be a more 
likely time for the dedication, and whether the Abingdon claim, or 
that of Glastonbury, or that of Shaftesbury, be the just one, the fact 
of the statement that his remains were brought to this neighbourhood, 
would be sufficient to suggest a church being dedicated in his honour at 
the time. Still the data are not sufficient to warrant any satisfactory 
conclusion ; and when it is remembered that the church may perhaps 
be, after all, dedicated to Eadward the Confessor s , it must be admitted 
that there is no evidence for or against the foundation of the church 
having taken place before or after the Domesday Survey. 

The site of the church, like that of S. Mildred, is wholly obliterated. 
It was situated between the High Street and the northern boundary 
wall of S. Frideswide's, and the parish would therefore have been to the 
south of All Saints' parish, with which in the fifteenth century it appears 
to have been incorporated. 

Contrasted with the full details we have of the parentage and life of 
S. Mildred, the name of S. Aldate presents considerable difficulty. 
No early writer seems to have known this saint. In no ancient 

1 So Antony Wood apud Peshall, p. 116. But no reference is given. Through 
out numerous charters, entries in the Hundred Rolls, &c, &c, no single instance 
has been observed in which anything more than the name l Eccl. Sancti EdwardV 
is found. 

2 Chron. Mon. Ab., vol. i. p. 443. In the list of the relics (ibid. ii. p. 157) they 
are entered, 1 De Sancto Eadwardo pars plurima.' The story adopted by nearly all 
the martyrologists is that his remains, after reposing for a time at Wareham, were 
translated to Shaftesbury. We note the date of the translation (June 20) still in 
our Prayer Books. 

3 It may be mentioned that it is impossible to distinguish between the dedica- 
tions of the churches of S. Eadward throughout the country as to which belong 
to the Martyr and which to the Confessor. 


martyrologies or calendars does the, name appear. The fanciful 
identification with the imaginary Eldad of Geoffrey of Monmouth's 
romance does not seem to have been definitely suggested till the 
seventeenth or at the earliest till the sixteenth century. 

The story of Hengist meeting Vortigern and giving the watchword 
of ' Nemet oure Saxas,' is well known ; and how four hundred and sixty 
barons and consuls (barones et consules) of the British were slain ; and 
how ' the blessed Eldad buried their bodies with Christian burial in the 
cemetery which was near the monastery of Abbot Ambrius V This is 
supposed, of course, to have taken place soon after the landing of Hen- 
gist and Horsa, given in the Chronicle under the year 449. Elsewhere 
Eldad is called by Geoffrey Episcopus Claudiocestrensis 2 , and said to be 
brother of Eldol, consul of Gloucester, who did such valiant deeds on 
the battle-field against the Saxons. All this, inclusive of the names, is 
pure invention, and of a very weak sort even for the twelfth century, so 
far as the writer was actuated by the desire to pass his fiction off for 
history. Still he succeeded, strange as it may appear, and a church 
dedicated to a British bishop being too good a point to be lost, we 
have the dedication of the church neatly introduced by Antony a Wood 
as an argument to prove the antiquity of the church. 

4 Concerning the first foundation of which [i. e. S. Aldate's Church] 
it is very ancient ; if we regard to whom it was dedicated, and whose 
name it bears, a British saint, about 450, as Leland says 3 , and whose 
feast, as another author observes, was used to be kept at Gloucester 
4th February. Through his means it was that Hengist, King of the 
Saxons V &c. 

The first time we hear of S. Aldate's Church, apart from the sup- 
posed Confirmation Charter of Henry the First, is in the Abingdon 
Chronicle. The story, which is a very singular one, belongs to the 
next century, but, on account of the light it throws upon that charter, 
it must be briefly referred to here. The chronicler introduces it thus : — 

1 Galfredi Monumetensis Historia, vi. 15, ed. Giles, 1844, P« II 3* 

2 Ibid. viii. 7, p. 137. 

3 But does Leland say so ? The reference is ' Com. in Cygneam cantionem sub 
voce C This must mean the word Claudia where Leland is justifying his use of the 
word Claudia for Gloucester by referring to ' Nennius Britannus] and ' Annates 
Britannorwn,' which are only later forms of Geoffrey of Monmouth. He simply 
writes, ' Annales Britannorum referunt olim sedem hie fuisse episcopalem antisti- 
temque habuisse Eldadum/ and nothing more (see Leland's Itinerary, Hearne's ed. 
1744, vol. ix. p. 49). But it is not only useful to note the imperfect reference and 
misstatement, but also the fact that Leland, whose Cygnea Cantio relates so much 
to Oxford, had seemingly never heard of the suggestion that the church opposite the 
entrance gate of St. Frideswide had as yet been connected with the imaginary 
British Bishop. 

4 Antony a Wood. Apud Peshall, 1773, p. 144. 

U % 


< There is in the city of Oxford a certain minster {monasterium) 
dedicated in honour of S. Aldad Bishop. Two clerks {clerici) of the 
said town, Robert and Gilbert, brothers, share the whole benefice 
equally with a certain Nicholas a priest V 
It appears that the two. brothers had taken the monk's habit at 
Abin-don in the time of Abbot Ingulph. Nicholas made a bargain 
thereupon with Abingdon that he was to hold the said brothers 
moiety as well as his own, paying Abingdon twenty shillings per 
annum as long as he lived; if he died as he was (viz. an ordinary 
priest), his moiety should, with the other, go to Abingdon; if he took 
a religious habit he should not go to any other house than Abingdon. 
He was taken ill suddenly in Oxford, and sent word of his illness to 
Abingdon; the brothers delayed to come; when in extremis the 
canons of S. Frideswide put on him their habit, and so the moiety 
was lost to Abingdon, and gained by S. Frideswide. This is the 
bare outline of the story, and it shows how S. Frideswide obtained 
that moiety which the charter of Henry the First confirms to them. 
But when did this take place ? Ingulph was Abbot of Abingdon n so- 
il 58, and he is recorded to have received the two brothers. It must 
therefore have been some time after n 30, even supposing he had 
received them immediately on his accession, for between the brothers 
taking the habit and the death of Nicholas, some time elapsed (to 
quote the exact words ' defluente vero aliquanto tempore'). Henry the 
First, in whose reign the charter confirming the moiety to S. Frides- 
wide professes to be granted, died 1135. So far it would be just 
possible, provided the charter was given quite at the end of Henry's 
reign, for it to be genuine. But incidentally at the last moment, 
before the death of Nicholas, the Abbot of Oseney is called in, by 
name Wigod. So far as can be ascertained he did not become Abbot 
until 1 1 38. This makes it impossible that S. Frideswide could have 
obtained the moiety of S. Aldate's in Henry's reign, and therefore, in 
that particular at least which can be tested, the charter is false, and it 

» Chron. Man. A/k, Rolls Series, ii. p. 1 74- Wood apud Peshall comments 
upon this in a curious way ; thus, 'Est in civit. Oxenford Monasterium quoddam 
S Aldati episcopi venerationi consecratum. This charter was wrote in King 
Rufus' time; by which it is evident this church at that time was a monastery or 
cloister to receive monks, or other devoted persons, to be prepared or trained up 
for the above religious houses, viz. S. Frid and Abendon Monasteries (Peshall, 
p. 145). The passage he quotes is not a charter; as will be shown it is not ot 
William Rufus' time, but relates to events which could not have taken place before 
Stephen's reign ; and as to the < monastery ' as a preparatory cloister to others, me 
word minster is often used simply in the sense of a church with a priest or pnests 
attached. S. Martin's Church in Cnut's Charter is called monasterwlum (see 
ante, p. 164). 


tends to throw a doubt, of course, over other particulars which cannot 
be tested. Ingulph lived on till 1158, that is, well into Henry the 
Second's reign, and any time before that date the two brothers might 
have been received and have given their moiety to Abingdon 1 ; Wigod 
continued Abbot of Oseney, so far as can be ascertained, till 1168, and 
any time therefore before that date the death of Nicholas may have 
taken place, and S. Frideswide have obtained their moiety. If there- 
fore the charter is of the time of Henry the Second there is nothing 
to be said against it, and there is an error in the rubric ; but it is so 
connected with the one 2 declaring the grant of this property to have 
been confirmed by the Empress Matilda, in 1142, that some caution 
should be exercised in accepting this explanation. 

But then there is nothing proved as to the antiquity of the church 
itself. The two brothers, Robert and Gilbert, might have succeeded 
to or purchased one moiety of the benefice, and Nicholas the other. 
Had they been the founders of the church the probabilities are that 
they would not, have been referred to by the chronicler in the manner 
in which he writes. We are therefore thrown back into an obscurity 
in regard to the origin of the church, just as absolute as in regard 
to the life of the saint to whom it was dedicated. 

That there are many saints of whom we find nothing recorded, and 
whose names exist only in the churches dedicated after them, is true ; 
but though this is common enough in Cornwall and Wales, and 
somewhat so in the north, it is not the case of the churches lying in 
the midland and southern counties, and the suggestion is somewhat 
forced on the mind that the name Aldate (as it is most commonly 
found written) is that of no saint at all. 

One church, and one church only, is known to be so called, namely 
a church at Gloucester. There seems to be little or no record 
remaining which throws any light upon its origin 3 . There is, how- 
ever, this one point in common between the two, namely, that they are 
each situated just within one of the four town gates ; that at Gloucester 
just within and a little to the left on entering the old north gate of the 

1 As the moiety is mentioned in the Privilegium of Pope Eugenius III. granted to 
Abingdon in 11 46, their reception of the brothers and acquisition of their moiety 
must have taken place either at or before that date. 

2 See ante, p. 285, note 1. 

3 In the Cartularium Monasterii S. Petri Gloucestriae, Rolls Series 1863-67, 
where one would expect to find at least some references to S. Aldate's Church, 
amongst the other churches, the name is not even mentioned. The Priory of 
Deerhurst is entered as having a portion in the Church of S. Aldate in Gloucester 
in the Taxatio Papae Nicholai, made c. 1291, and this is the earliest instance of 
the name which has been observed. 



town, that at Oxford just within and on the left on entering the old 
south gate of the town. It may be added that on one old map of 
Gloucester and in another old map of Oxford they are inscribed 'St. 
Aldgate's Church V 

The calling of a church after its position as well as after the saint 
to which it is dedicated, is not uncommon. In London it was often 
necessary to have a second name, and so in the list of benefices 
taken 31 Edward I. (1303), nearly all have such. We find, for 
instance, Sancti Botulphi extra Bisschopesgate, Sancti Botulphi apud 
Billingesgate, Sancti Botulphi de Alegate, Sancti Botulphi de Aldres- 
gate V &c. It is therefore quite possible that the two churches, one in 
Oxford and one in Gloucester, had originally some designation of this 
kind. Supposing at Oxford the church had been called St. Martin at 
Aldgate, it might have been shortened, just as St. Martin's at Carfax is 
commonly called in conversation Carfax Church ; and were it not for 
written documents the name of this dedication would thus very likely 
have been lost. In the state of things at the Conquest it is quite pos- 
sible that the church was called the Aldgate Church, and the Normans 
thought Aldgate (or as it was softened Aldate) to be the name of a saint 3 . 
There is, of course, no written evidence of this, for if the original name 
before the Conquest had been enrolled in documents it would not have 
been forgotten, and the error would not have happened. All that can 
be said is that this view is as probable as that a church in Oxfordshire 
should be dedicated in the eleventh or twelfth century to a saint 
utterly unknown, and of which, amidst the numerous martyrologies, 
no writer should ever have attempted a history. One thing may be 
taken as certain, and that is, it was not originally dedicated to the 
fanciful Eldad 4 of Geoffrey of Monmouth, since his romance was not 

1 Hall and Pinnell's map of the city of Gloucester, 1 780, and Longmate's map 
of Oxford, i773» which accompanies Peshall's edition of Antony a Wood. In 
Speed's map of Gloucester it is curiously spelt St. Aldame's. 

2 Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis, Rolls Series i860, vol. ii. pp. 228-30. 
Sometimes the names are singular ; for instance, Sancti Nicholai Aldrethegate ad 
Macellas, Sancti Nicholai Olof (and this occurs elsewhere as S. Nicholai Bernard 
Olof), Sanctae Mariae de Eldemariechirche, &c. 

3 There is room for suspicion that the Est-rig-hoiel (? Est-bricg-hoiel) on the 
first folio of the Gloucestershire Domesday (fol. 162 a, col. 1), where the Castellum 
was built by William, was corrupted to S. Briavels, and hence was the origin of 
that saint's name. 

4 By the Abingdon chronicler writing ' Aldad Bishop ' it looks almost as if he 
had in his mind Geoffrey of Monmouth's Eldad of Gloucester. He had evidently 
read the romance, as in the beginning of his chronicle he speaks of Brutus, of 
Faganus and Divianus, and of the burial of Lucius at Gloucester, &c. In the 
charters the name is written simply Ecclesia Sancti Aldati or Aldathi. 


issued till 11 25 and a previous existence of the church is implied. 
In all early cases the first syllable is Aid, and when we find corrup- 
tions in later times it is S. Olds or S. Tolds 1 ; no trace of S. Eldad 
ever having been written exists. 

Thus much then for three churches out of the eight which are 
mentioned for the first time in the somewhat doubtful charter as con- 
firmed to S. Frideswide's Monastery. It has been thought that such 
dedications as S. Mildred and S. Eadward belong rather to the times 
when S. Aebba, the sister of S. Oswald 2 , was chosen by the com- 
munity at Ensham as the saint in whose memory to dedicate their 
church; and this may be so ; and if S. Aldate is a corruption of Aldgate, 
as has been suggested, the fact would still point to a church having 
been in existence on the spot sometime before the close of the eleventh 

Of the remaining five churches, namely All Saints', another S. Peter's, 
another S. Michael's, and a chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity 
close to the east gate, and one to S. Clement on the other side of 
the river Cherwell, nothing can be said which points to their being of 
an earlier date than the twelfth century, nor on the other hand that they 
were founded afterwards. The buildings themselves offer no remains 
whatever. All Saints', and S. Peter's in the Bailey of the Castle, were 
entirely rebuilt from the ground in the eighteenth century, and the 
latter of the two re-erected on another site in the nineteenth century, 
while the little chapel of S. Clement's, which gave way to a four- 
teenth century church, standing just on the other side of Magdalen 
bridge, and in the middle of the eastern road out of Oxford, as S. 
Mary Magdalen's stood in the middle of the northern road, was wholly 
cleared away at the beginning of this century, and another church 
erected in the fields. Of Trinity Chapel, and of the other S. Michael's, 
even the exact sites may be said to be unknown, and it is not clear 
whether the latter was built over the gate or adjoining to it. 

1 In the English version of the Oseney Chartulary before referred to (p. 207), 
amongst the signatures to a charter dated 1226 there is one translated 'Reginald 
Chapelyn of ye church of Seynte Oolde of Oxford' (folio 14 b). 

2 Beda, Hist. Eccl. Lib. IV. cap. 19, mentions her as the abbess of Coldingham. 
She died in 683. It is Florence of Worcester who supplies the name of her 
parents (Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 533). At the same time the martyrologists seem to 
have mixed up two stories together in the lives they write of this saint. There was 
another St. Ebba an abbess of Coldingham who lived in the ninth century, when 
her house was attacked by the Danes. It is impossible to say to which of these the 
monks of Ensham intended to dedicate their church. One other church in Oxford- 
shire, namely Shelswell (now destroyed), was dedicated in her honour, and also 
Ebbchester in Durham. No others are known. 



There is another church of which the name may be thought to carry 
the foundation back as far at least as the eleventh century, namely, that 
of S. Budoc. It does not seem to have been under the charge of any 
monastery, or we should have probably learnt something more about 
it. The chief references definitely to the church itself are in the early 
part of the thirteenth century. In 1206 we find that William the 
chaplain of Oxford has letters of presentation directed to the Lord 
Bishop of Lincoln for the church of S. Budoc in Oxford 1 . Later on 
we learn the story how, during the Barons' wars, the church being in 
the way of the fortifications of the castle, the King had it pulled down, 
but Henry III. rebuilt it apparently on another site 2 . There are how- 
ever one or two incidental references to houses in S. Budoc's parish 
in the twelfth century amongst the Oseney charters from King 
Stephen's reign onwards. 

To the question as to who S. Budoc was, no very satisfactory 
answer can be given. It is easy to imagine some Cornish saint after 
whom S. Budoc's or Buddock near Falmouth 3 , and S. Budeaux (in 
Devonshire) near Plymouth 4 are supposed to be named, yet no reason 
could be well assigned for a church in Oxford being dedicated to a 
Cornish saint. If the name had been S. Judoc, the saint of Brittany who 
died about 658, and was much honoured in some parts of Normandy 
and in Picardy at this time 5 , it would have been easy to have imagined 
that some of the Conqueror's followers erected a little church outside 
the West gate, either for travellers arriving in that direction, or for the 
population which had sprung up outside the town in that part As it 
is, we must perhaps fall back upon the obscure Cornish saint, who 
seems to be known only from the two places which appear to bear his 

1 Rotidi Literarum Patentium, anno 7 0 John, Memb. 7. The writ is dated, 
apparently at Basing by the king, May 6, 1206. 

2 Rotuli Literarum Clausarum, 6° Henry III, Membs. 10 and 3, and 7 0 , 
Membs. 21 and 7. 

3 * And thus within the space of half a mile I cam to S. Budocns Church. This 
Budocus was an Irisch man and cam into Cornewalle and ther dwellid.' — LclancTs 
Itinerary, Hearne's ed. vol. iii. p. 14. 

4 ' A four mile upper a creke going up to Mr. Budokes side where is his Manor 
Place and S. Budok Chirch ' (ibid. Hearne's ed. vol. iii. p. 30). Wood apud Peshall, 
p. 298, refers to Oudoceus (which he spells Budoceus), the son of a king of Brittany 
whom Godwin gives as Bishop of Llandaff circa 560. Also to a certain Bodo. As 
to Budic, or Budec, Geoffrey of Monmouth (Bk. vi. cap. 8) introduces the name 
into his story as a king of Brittany who received Aurelius, Ambrosius, and Uter 
I 'en dragon when they escaped for fear of being killed by Vortigern, but he does not 
name Budoc. 

8 Orderic Vital, one of the chief historians of this time, devotes several pages to 
a life of S. Budoc. His monastery of S. Evroult had acquired the old church 
where his relics were preserved, and they had been twenty-four years at the time of his 


name. The church does not now exist, and even the exact site can- 
not be identified 1 , while the parish has been wholly absorbed by 
S. Ebbe's. So that whether it existed before the close of the eleventh 
century, or did not come into being till the twelfth, there are no means 
of ascertaining. 

And there is a possibility of still another church having been in 
existence before the close of the century, and that is S. Cross. 
We have no mention of the church in records as existing in the 
eleventh century, and only indirectly in the twelfth, but there is an 
architectural feature belonging to the church, namely the old chancel 
arch, which speaks, as plainly as the records, of a date, certainly very 
early in the twelfth, and probably in the eleventh, when the structure was 
erected. The Domesday Survey mentions S. Peter's Church, and that 
alone as existing in Robert D'Oilgi's manor; hence it may fairly be 
argued that at that time the church was not built ; but then it must be 
remembered that Robert D'Oilgi lived some three or four years after 
the Survey was made, and there were still nine or ten years to the end 
of the century, during which time, as the population on Holywell 
manor increased, his brother Nigel, or perhaps his heir, Robert D'Oilgi 
the younger, who later on was so munificent to Oseney Abbey, would 
have gone on with work which was begun, and would not have allowed 
those outside the wall no more than those within to be long without 
a church. Still it must be remembered that the evidence rests upon 
a single architectural feature, and that though this points to a date 
within the eleventh century, it is to one quite at the close of it. 

There is little to be said beyond what has been already said as to 
the streets. It is not till late in the twelfth century that we begin to find 
them called by name. Early in that century, for instance, we find the 
following reference to a house which had belonged to the manor of 
Tadmarton, which was situated ' in via scilicet qua itur a Sancti 

writing (i. e. 1116) in rebuilding it. At the same time the Hyde Abbey Chronicle 
declares that the relics were brought over in 903 to the new minster at Winchester. 
S. Judoc's father was a king of Brittany, and it may be that Geoffrey of Monmouth 
took his name of Budec from Judoc, and it is quite possible that a confusion arose 
in the nomenclature, though in the ordinary change of words Judocus would not 
get into Budocus. 

1 The most probable site was in the angle formed by the road which skirted the 
castle ditch on the southern side and the stream, since in one of the Oseney charters 
reference is made to a property extra portam occidentalem, in Parochia S. Budoci. 
If it stood in the middle of this road, as S. Mary Magdalen Church stood, it would 
have been in the way of fortifying the castle on this side, and Falk de Breaute, who 
had not much respect for churches, would have demolished it when he was 
preparing the castle against siege. 



Michaelis ecclesia ad castellum! Th'is was practically what is now 
represented by New-Inn-Hall Street, but was part of that continuous 
street which went all round the town within the walls. By degrees 
this road was gradually blocked. As early as Henry the First's 
reign, and when Bishop Roger of Salisbury was chancellor (1101-3), 
if we can trust the Frideswide Charters, the king grants to them the 
way which goes along the wall of the city of Oxford, so far as their land 
reaches, and that they may enclose the said way, and that they may 
close or obstruct all the entrances of the whole of their priory, &C 1 
In the next century (1244) the Grey Friars were allowed to enclose 
the inner road for a considerable distance, in another part of the 
southern wall in St. Ebbe's parish 2 . "And so it was continued, some- 
times small portions being enclosed by individuals, sometimes large 
portions being enclosed by colleges, e. g. Merton, Exeter, and New, 
until now only here and there traces of such a street are left. 

The four streets meeting in the centre must have existed, but we do 
not know how they were called ; and it is not till we come to the charters 
of the Abbeys of S. Frideswide, Oseney, &c, of the twelfth century, and 
mainly of the latter part of that century, that we find any reference to 
the streets into which the central part of the city was divided. 

It has already been mentioned that Robert D'Oilgi built the bridge 
at the western approach to Oxford on the north of the Castle bridge, 
i. e. the Hythe Bridge 3 . It is probable that before the century closed 
the south bridge was in existence. The evidence is briefly this : — In 
the time of Abbot Faritius, who became Abbot of Abingdon in 1100, 
a certain house in Oxford, called the Wick, which was left to Ermenold, 
is described as 'juxta pontem Oxeneford 4 ,' and later on, in the time of 
Abbot Ingulph (1130-1558), when it is let on lease 5 , it is again so 
described. Of course it is possible that the bridge may have been 
built in the early years of Abbot Faritius, or the house may have had 1 
that name given to it afterwards, the chronicler calling it by the new 
name in order to identify it ; still the more reasonable view perhaps is, 1 

that the bridge was in existence. A later reference, i.e. after the ! «e 


• Praeterea do eis viam juxta murum civitatis Oxeneford quantum extenditur j j| 

terra eorum ; et volo quod praedicti canonici eandem viam includant, et concedo | e 

quod iidcm canonici claudere possint omnes portus totius prioratus,' &c. Rotuli \ 1 

Lit. Pat. Hen. V. Memb. 3. Per Inspeximus. \ 
2 Printed in Dugdale, vol. viii. p. 1525. 3 See ante, p. 218. 

4 C/iron. Mon.Ab. vol. ii. p. 140. j ^ 

5 Ibid. p. 1 76. Another entry occurs respecting a certain Langford Mill, which x% 
is described as ' apud Pontem Oxeneford posittim' (Ibid. p. 123), and which was | 
given during the time of Abbot Faritius. It does not however seem to refer to I ^ 
this bridge, but there are difficulties in identifying the spot. \ 


death of Abbot Roger, 1184, when a schedule is drawn out of the 
property of the abbey, with the dates when the payments to it are due, 
we find under rents from Oxford those from iij messagia supra pontem 
australem ; i. e. it has here the name of the south bridge 

And after mentioning the bridges, the mills should not be omitted. 
There was the mill, which is mentioned in tne Survey, namely, the 
Castle Mill ; and there is no reason to doubt but that it occupied the 
same site as it does now, and portions of the masonry of the founda- 
tions, and by which the rush of water is regulated, may well be of 
a date anterior to the Conquest, for it will be observed that Earl 
Aelfgar held the mill T. R. E. 2 Incidentally it is noticed in Domesday 
that, besides this mill, Robert D'Oilgi had one worth ten shillings 3 , 
which by implication was in his manor of Holywell It must have 
occupied the site of the present Holywell Mill, being supplied with 
water from the Cherwell. Although the charter relating to the property 
of Ensham, which mentions the mills, is not earlier than the year 1109, 
it is a confirmation charter, and bears internal evidence of referring to 
property which had been some time previously in the hands of the mon- 
astery; and as we see by the Domesday Survey they already possessed 
their church and several houses which appear to be connected with the 
church, we may fairly conclude that they already possessed these mills 
also, and therefore two more may be added to the list of mills, which 
may be supposed to be supplying the inhabitants of Oxford with flour 
at this time. It is perhaps dangerous to fix on any particular spots 
for the two mills, but we may presume that they were in or near to 
St. Ebbe's parish. There are several divergences in the stream between 
the Castle and Folly Bridge, and any of these would serve as a site for 
a mill. In all probability, the mill which afterwards bore the name of 
Trill Mill, the stream of which is now covered over for a greater part 
of its course, and is filled up or much diverted for the remainder 4 , was 

1 Chron. Mon. Ab. vol. ii. p. 332. The words probably are not to be taken to 
mean that the houses were built on the bridge, like the so-called Friar Bacon's 
study was afterwards. Supra here means beyond the bridge. The bridge in 
Edward the First's reign is usually called the Pons longus or the Pons magnus, 
the latter possibly a latinization of Grand-pount. 

2 See ante, p. 223. 3 Ibid. p. 225. 

4 The Trill Mill stream left the main stream on the west of what is now 
Paradise Square, and flowing through meadows which are now covered thickly 
with houses, it gave off (as shewn by the map of Agas and Loggan) a stream 
running due south to the Thames, and parallel with the road to Folly Bridge. 
On the west side, the main stream, after passing beneath the road some seventy 
yards outside South gate, gave off another stream running parallel with the former, 
but a little distance off, on the east side of the said road. A portion of the main 



originally one of the Ensham mills. In the next century we find 1 
Oseney with certain mills which Robert D'Oilgi's nephew had given . 
them, but there is no evidence of there being more than the four mills 1 
above named actually in existence at the time of the Survey. 

There is one feature which still remains to be noticed, and which | 
essentially connects the time of the Domesday Survey with our own. 
It will have been observed that the last item in the Oxford list runs as 
follows : 

' All burgesses of Oxford have common of pasture without the wall 
which pays 6s. 8d.' 1 

That ' common of pasture ' remains the same, stretching itself 
between Walton Manor on the east and the main stream of the river 
on the west, and bounded on the north by Wolvercote. It would be j 
perhaps rash to say that during the eight hundred years which have 
passed since this notice of it there have been no encroachments, 
especially on the southern side where the Cripley meadows lie. But 
still in substance it remains, and the rights of the freemen of Oxford I 
to have therein free pasture are still admitted ; above all it bears the I 
old English name of the ' Port Meadow.' Practically the chief duties I 
of the Reeve of the town (who is appointed annually by the Portmanni- 
mot or Town Council) is to look after the well-being of this meadow, 
and the interests of the freemen therein ; but by a perversity which it 
is difficult to account for, instead of being called the Port-reeve, which 
is his true name, he is always called the Shire-reeve ; still, in the title 
of sheriff it is something to find a survival of a part of this ancient 
officer's name, and in his work a part of his ancient duties; it is 
something more to find the meadow itself still set apart for its ancient 
purpose, and bearing the ancient name in which that purpose is 
in a measure set forth. 

Such then are the points respecting Oxford on which the few 
scattered documents which we possess appear to throw any light. 
The little which they tell us is very slight in proportion to the amount 
which is left to conjecture ; but enough seems to be handed down to 
show that Oxford, like most other towns, had suffered much during 
the time that preceded the arrival of William the Conqueror, and 
enjoyed comparative tranquillity afterwards. His rule, though at times 

stream was continued evidently across Merton Fields by the side of what is now 
the Broad Walk, and found its way into the Cherwell. Several small branches of the 
river in the south-western part of Oxford have been filled up and built over during 
the past century. 
1 Sec ante, p. 225. 


perhaps harsh, was always firm, and he thereby probably prevented 
harshness in others. So far as can be judged from the very few data 
existing, his government as regards the town was based upon the 
old English lines. There was a reeve appointed over the shire by the 
King himself ; and probably also a reeve either appointed or elected 
over the town also. It is difficult from the few scattered passages in 
which the Scire-reve or Vice-comes is mentioned, and from the omis- 
sion in most cases of the names of the counties over which they 
presided, to make even a list of the names of the sheriffs at this time ; 
while of the names of the portreeves there is scarcely a trace. 

In the charter in which King William greets Sawold, Scirefe, and 
all his thanes in Oxfordshire 1 , we may presume we have the name of 
the reeve of this county at the time of the Conquest. The document 
probably belongs to the early part of William's reign, for the com- 
munity at Westminster whom it concerns would have hastened to have 
their property protected by royal charters. Sawold however is not 
recognized as sheriff in the Oxford list, though the same Sawold was 
apparently holding mansions in Oxford ; hence we may argue that he 
had ceased to be sheriff by the time the Survey was taken. In that 
list we have distinctly named Edward as the Sheriff 2 ; but, as already 
pointed out, it is a question whether this was Edward of Salisbury 
who was sheriff of Wilts, or another Edward, who was sheriff of 
Oxford. The latter seems the most probable, from the circumstances 
that the charter respecting the grant of Ensham, which could have 
nothing to do with Wiltshire, is witnessed by Edward the sheriff, and 
Robert D'Oilgi together 3 . But in the list of the holders of Oxford 
mansions occurs more than once the name of Alwin, or Alwi, and 
under the ' Terra Ministrorum Regis,' we find that Alwi the sheriff 
holds of the king two hydes in Bletchingdon 4 . We also find amongst 
the Tenentes in capite in Oxfordshire that a Suain is entered as vice- 
comes and that he held Baldon 5 . If either of them was sheriff of Ox- 
fordshire there is the difficulty of determining whether one succeeded 
Edward, or the reverse. The balance of evidence perhaps would be 
in favour of Edward (who was most likely a Norman) succeeding to 
Alwi or Suain, who must have been Englishmen. Still, it must be 
confessed that the data are insufficient for arriving at any very definite 

1 See ante, pp. 270-71. 2 See ante, p. 246. 

3 See ante, p. 242, and Appendix A, § 95. His signature also occurs in the 
charter respecting Remigius, A, § 90. 

4 See ante, pp. 257 and 266. 

5 Domesday, fol. 160 a, col. 1. See also the list of Tenentes hi capite shown as 
the Frontispiece to this volume, No. xlii. 


conclusion, since either Alwi, Suain or Edward might have been 
sheriffs of some other county after all. 

In William Rums' reign, and presumably early in that reign, we find 
several writs addressed to Peter the sheriff of Oxford. It may reason- 
ably be suggested that, whether Alwi or Edward were holding the 
office in William the Conqueror's reign, they gave way to Peter in the 
reign of his successor. But he appears only to have held the office 
during William Rums' reign, since, when Abbot Faritius soon after 
noo bought houses in Oxford, they are described as those of Peter 
formerly sheriff 1 . Further than this, we find a writ dated in 1002 — that 
is, early in Henry the First's reign — to William of Oxford and to William 
the sheriff of Oxford 2 . Hence it would seem that on the accession of 
King Henry, Peter was for some reason, possibly political, superseded 
and William put in his place. 

As to the Port-reeve, it is curious that no mention is made of him in 
the list of the Oxford tenants. Either he lived in one of the houses 
of the ' Tenentes in Capitej or possibly his office was not recognized by 
the Domesday Surveyor from it not being a crown appointment. One 
instance however has been noted, and it is the only one, namely, where 
the name of the Praepositus Eadwi occurs in a writ issued by William 

The writ runs as follows : — 

William, King of the English to Peter of Oxford greeting. 

Know that I will and command that abbot Rainald of Abingdon, 
and the monks of his church, shall have and hold all their customs 
every where and in every way as well and as honourably and as peace- 
fully as they ever held them in the time of King Eadward, and in the 
time of my father, so that no man shall henceforth any more do them 

Witness Ranulf the Chaplain 3 . 

And take care that full right be done to the aforesaid abbot by Eadwi 
your praepositus , and other of your servants who have done his monks 
injury 4 . 

1 See ante, p. 264. 2 See ante, p. 265. 

3 This must be Ralph Flammard (see ante, p. 255), to whom William Rufus 
gave the bishopric of Durham in 1098, and who made such bad use of his power. 
The following passage bearing upon the signature, ' Rannulph the Chaplain,' 
occurs in the continuation of Simeon of Durham's history of Durham. ' Rex W. 
dedit episcopatum Ranulfo qui propter quandam apud regem excellentiam 
singulariter nominabatur capellanus Regis.' Apud Twysden, Decern Scriptores, 
col. 59. 

4 Chron. Mon. Ab. ii. p. 41. As to Eadwi being named in the Domesday list 
in the Conqueror's reign see ante, p. 273. Appendix A, § 103. 


The word praepositus seems generally to be used in the sense of 
Port-reeve *, although at the same time it is used in the other senses 
as well 2 . 

We have no direct evidence that either William the Conqueror or 
William Rufus ever visited Oxford. No charter has been observed 
dated by either of those kings at Oxford ; buf then the charters of 
which copies are in existence are very few in proportion to the 
number which must have been granted. The probability is that 
the first William would visit the town to satisfy himself that the works 
done at the Castle were sufficient, and this is strengthened by the 
fact that we learn that he was frequently in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood, though if we accept entirely the Abingdon chronicler's 
statement, the two Williams, both father and son, preferred Abingdon, 
as a place of sojourn, to Oxford. In speaking of the island called 
Andres-ei, which adjoins the precincts of the monastery, and which 
was celebrated from the circumstance that King Offa, about the year 
760, had taken up his abode there, and also King iEthelstan, the 
chronicler writes : — ■ 

' And in this place King William the elder and his son King William 
the younger after his father frequently chose to be lodged when they 
passed through this district V 

He then speaks of the manner in which he was entertained and the 
pleasant aspect of the place, and goes on to speak of King Henry 
and his queen Matilda. 

It would seem too that Prince Henry was commanded by his father 
to keep Easter there in the year 1084, Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, 
and Milo of Willingford, ' cognomento Crespin,' being in attendance on 
him, and the chronicler narrates the circumstance with a certain 
feeling of satisfaction, inasmuch as he adds that Robert D'Oilgi 
provided abundance of provisions not only for the table of the royal 
party but also for those of the brethren of his monastery 4 . 

It was this Robert D'Oilgi whom the king had appointed to the 
governorship of the castle and to whom was entrusted the military 
control of the district. The titles given to him by the Abingdon 

1 It is clearly so in the case of Godwin, one of the signatures to the charter 
referred to p. 179. The original runs, ' Et Goduuinus praepositus civitatis Oxna- 
fordi, et Wulfwinus praepositus comitis, et omnes cives Oxanfordienses.' 

2 For instance, in the laws of King iEthelstan a hlaford may appoint a prae- 
positus to protect his men (Thorpe, vol. i. p. 217). A praepositus of a hundred 
also is found mentioned in William the Conqueror's laws (ibid. p. 469). 

3 Chron. Mon. Ab. vol. ii. p. 49. 4 Ibid. p. 12. 


chronicler, of Constahularius and Castelli oppidanus, do not throw 
any special light upon his official position ; no doubt he was practi- 
cally governor over Oxford. There is no reason however to suppose 
that he was ill-disposed towards the city. Indeed the little that has 
come down to us implies the contrary. He lived on into the reign 
of William Rufus ; as has been said, he was a benefactor to Abingdon, 
as much as to Oxford, assisting in the rebuilding of their monastery, 
and so eventually determined to be buried there 1 . He left no heir, 
and Nigel D'Oilgi his brother succeeded to his barony. There 
does not appear to be any reason for saying Nigel succeeded to him 
in the office of governor of Oxford 2 . It is possible that Peter the 
Sheriff was entrusted with the responsibilities hitherto belonging 
to Robert D'Oilgi, as no name of a successor is found. In the 
absence of any record to the contrary, it can only be supposed that 
whoever it was he followed in the steps of his predecessor. Cer- 
tainly it would appear that the next century saw Oxford regain its 
old prosperity and advance beyond it, and that is perhaps the best test 
of good government which the historian can expect to find. Besides, 
so far as can be judged by the incidental reference to the legal pro- 
ceedings which we possess, though they are mainly of the following 
century, there was a disposition not only to give the people good laws 
but to see that they were carried out, and though we learn but little of 
the sheriffs, or the portreeves, who were responsible for the peace and 
progress of the town, we may fairly presume they did their duty, and 
that, compared with the state of things previously, Oxford had rather 
to be thankful than otherwise for the Norman Conquest. 

1 See ante, p. 215. 

2 Kennett, in the Parochial Antiquities, vol. i. p. 102, speaks of him as ' Nigel 
de Oily, constable of the castle of Oxford, and lord of the barony of Hook Norton,' 
but the examination of some thirty or forty charters, either granted or signed by 
him, affords no evidence that he held this position. 


Passages quoted in Chapter II. on the Mythical Origin of 


§ i. Ex Johannis Rossi Historia Regum Angliae: fol. n a 1 . 
(See p. 5.) 

Circa haec tempora judicabat Samuel, dei servus, in Judaea. Habuitque 
iste rex Magdan duos filios, videlicet Mempricium & Malun. Hie junior 
proditorie k seniore interfecto monarchiam fratricidi reliquit. Erat vir 
invidus & immisericordia plenus, &, juxta illud Proverbiorum lido. ' Iranon 
habet misericordiam,' sic nec ipse, sed erat ipse contra omnes, & omnes 
contra eum. Ipse Mempricius monarcha existens male intravit, pessime 
proceres suos necando rexit. Tandem vicesimo regni sui anno a multitu- 
dine rapidissimorum 2 luporum circumdatus miserime vitam finivit, ab ipsis 
dilaceratus & devoratus. Nil boni de eo commemoratur, nisi quod pro- 
bum filium & heredem generavit nomine Ebrancum 3 , & unam nobilem 
urbem condidit, quam a nomine suo Caer Memre nominavit, sed temporum 
postea decursu Bellisitum, demum Caerbossa, tandem Ridohen, & ultimo 
Oxonia, sive Oxenfordia, a quodam eventu de quodam vado vicino per 
Saxones appellata est, quod nomen usque hodie retinet. Crevit ibi posteris 
diebus nobile studium generale, ab inclita Universitate de Greklaad diri- 
vatum. Situatur inter flumina Thamisie & Charwell ibi obviantia. Urbs 
haec, sicut Iherusalem, ut apparet, est alterata. Nam mons Calverie 

1 Hearne's edition, 1745, p. 21. This professes to be printed from a transcript 
of the Cotton MS. Vesp. A. XII., made by Ralph Jennings, but compared with 
another transcript made for Archbishop Parker, and preserved in the Library of 
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The above passage and those which follow 
have been read by the original MS., which is thus described in the Catalogue of 
the Cottonian Library: ' Codex Memb. in 4to. constans foliis 147. Joannis Rossi 
Warwicensis Historia a Bruto ad tempora Regis Henrici VII &c. ad nativitatem 
principis Arthuri, anno 1486.' Hearne's foliation given in the margin seems to be 
from the Cambridge copy. The folios given here are from the latest of the three 
series of folios by which the Cottonian MS. has been foliated. 

2 After 'rapidissimorum' the MS. has ' suorum,' which " has been struck 

3 Ebracu in MS. 

I X 

3 o6 


Christo passo erat juxta muros civitatis, & nunc infra murorum ambitum 
continetur. Sic extra Oxoniam est modo quaedam larga planicies muris 
ville contigua, & Belmount appellatur, quod sonat pulcher mons, & hoc 
quodammodo cum uno de antiquioribus nominibus urbis ipsius praenomi- 
natis & prerecitatis, videlicet Bellisitum ; unde opinantur multi, Universi- 
tatem a Greklad ad ipsum Bellum montem, vel Bellesitum, translatum ante 
adventum Saxonum Britonibus in insula regnantibus, et ecclesia Sancti 
Egidii, sub nomine cujusdam alterius Sancti dedicata, erat locus creationis 
graduatorum, sicut modo est ecclesia Sancte Marie infra muros. De 
hac nobili Universitate plenius tangam cum pervenero ad tempora regis 

§ 2. Ex Johannis Rossi Historia: fol. 2 b 1 . 
(See p. 6.) 

De aliis civitatibus ante diluvium conditis tacet Moyses. Scribit tamen 
egregius vir Bernardus de Breydenbach, decanus & camerarius Magunti- 
nensis ecclesiae cathedralis, in Itinerario suo ad Terram Sanctam & ad 
Sanctam Katerinam, quod ante diluvium Noe fuerunt octo nobiles urbes 
condite in humanum praesidium contra diluvium illud Noe venturum, 
quarum Joppe, alias Japha, erat una, sic nominata a Japhet, filio Noe, qui 
earn construxit, & ex suo nomine earn appellavit, ubi & hodie vectes eciam 
magni ex quadam rupe videntur pendere, quibus naves fuere affixe, &c. 

§ 3. Ex Galfredi Monumetensis Historia: Lib. II. § 6 2 . 
(See p. 7.) 

Tunc Samuel propheta regnabat in Judaea, et Silvius Aeneas adhuc 
vivebat. Et Homerus clarus rhetor et poeta habebatur. Insignitus sceptro 
Maddan, ex uxore genuit duos filios Mempricium et Malim. Regnumque 
cum pace et diligentia quadraginta annis tractavit. Quo defuncto orta est 
inter praedictos fratres discordia propter regnum : qui uterque totam 

insulam possidere aestuabat Vigesimo tandem regni sui anno, 

dum venationem exerceret, secessit a sociis in quandam convallem, ubi a 
multitudine rabiosorum luporum circumdatus, miserrime devoratus est. 
Tunc Saul regnabat in Judaea, et Eurystheus in Lacedaemonia. 

§ 4. Ex Galfredi Monumetensis Historia: Lib. III. § 10 3 . 
(See p. 8.) 

Habita ergo victoria remansit Brennius in Italia, populum inaudita 

tyrannide afficiens, Belinus vero in Britanniam reversus est : et cum 

tranquillitate reliquis vite suae diebus patriam tractavit. Renovavit etiam 
aedificatas urbes ubicumque collapsae fuerant; et multas novas aedificavit. 
Inter caeteras composuit unam super Oscam flumen prope Sabrinum mare, 

1 Hearne's edition, 1745, p. 3. 

a Galfredi Monumetensis Historia Britonum, edidit Giles, 1844, p. 26. 
3 Ibid. p. 48. 



quae multis temporibus Kaerosc appellata est Fecit etiam in urbe 

Trinovanto januam mirae fabricae super ripam Tamesis, quam de nomine 
suo cives temporibus istis Belinesgata vocant. 

§ 5. Ex Johannis Rossi His tor ia: fol. 13 a 1 . 
(See p. 8.) 

Huic successit Alius suus Bellinus, cujus fratei" Brennius condidit Bris- 
tolliam, quasi Brend locum ; et iste Bellinus condidit urbem Legionum in 
Cambria, & Byllnsgate apud London, et Danmarchiam sibi conquestu 
subjugavit 2 . 

§ 6. Ex Johannis Rossi His tor ia: fol. 14 a 3 . 
(See p. 8.) 

Condidit ipse Porcestriam, id est, Porchestre, prope Suthamptoniam, & 
urbem Warwici, quae caput est provinciae circumjacentis, quae & Caerleon 
est appellata secundum nostrum Gildam, virum diebus suis literatissimum 
& moribus excellenter pollentem, magni regis Arturi praecipuum capel- 

§ 7. Ex Johannis Rossi His tor ia: fol. 13 b 4 . 
(See p. 9.) 

Et eorum principis fratrem Gantebrum nomine, Cantebre civitatis Hispaniae 
verum heredem, secum retinuit, cui cum propria filia in uxorem dedit 
portionem terrae in Estanglia, ubi, ut scribunt Cantebrigienses, civitatem 
super flumen Cant condidit circa annum ab origine mundi M. M. m. m. ccc. 
xvii. 5 et quia vir literatissimus erat viros literatos sibi collegit, ac sibi 
studium generale incepit, quod nostris temporibus in magno floret honore. 
Quae civitas a filio suo Grantino, qui pontem ibi fecerat, Caergrant appel- 
lata vel Grauntcestre secundum alios, & modo appellatur Cambryge, & est 
caput patriae circumjacentis. 

§ 8. Ex Libro Cancellarii et Procuratorum 6 . 
(See p. 10.) 
Translatio Universitatis de loco in locum. 
Contestantibus plerisque chronicis, multa loca per orbis climata variis 
temporibus variarum scientiarum studiis floruisse leguntur ; omnium autem 

1 Hearne's edition, p. 25. 

2 The words ' et Danmarchiam . . . subjugavit ' are written in the MS. in a 
smaller hand, space having been left for them. 

3 Hearne's edition, p. 26. 4 Hearne's edition, p. 25. 

5 Space had been left for the date, but barely sufficient, so that it has been 
written in afterwards in a smaller hand. 

6 Printed in Munimenta cademica, ed. Anstey, 1868, Rolls Series, vol. ii. 
p. 367. The text is that of the Chancellor's Book (a.) compiled c. 1375, com- 
pared with that of the Proctor's Book (b.) written 1477, and with a still earlier 
Proctor's Book (c), written 1407. The above has also been compared with a 
fine transcript, presumably made for the private use of the Chancellor (M.), pre- 
served amongst the Cottonian MSS. in the British Museum (Claudius D. VIII.), 
and to which the date of 141 1 may perhaps be assigned. 

X % 

3 o8 


inter Latinos nunc extantium studiorum Universitas Oxoniensis fundatione 
prior, quadam scientiarum pluralitate generalior, in veritatis Catholicae 
professione firmior, ac privilegiorum multiplicitate praestantior invenitur. 

Prioritatem 1 suae fundationis insinuant historiae Britannicae perantiquae: 
fertur enim inter bellicosos quondam Trojanos, qui, cum duce suo Bruto, 
insulam tunc Albion, postmodum Britanniam, ac demum dictam Angliam, 
triumphaliter occuparunt, quosdam philosophos adventantes locum habita- 
tionis sibi congruae in ipsa insula elegisse, cui et nomen videlicet Grekelade. 
Iidem philosophi, qui Graeci fuerunt, usque in praesentem diem quasi sui 
vestigium reliquerunt. A quo quidem loco non longe municipium Oxoniae 
noscitur esse situm, quod, propter amnium, pratorum et nemorum adjacen- 
tium amoenitatem, Bellesitum olim antiquitas, postmodum Oxoniam, a 
quodam vado vicino sic dictam, populus Saxonicus nominavit, et ad locum 
studii praeelegit. 

Scientiarum quippe exuberantior pluralitas ibidem evidentius eo cernitur 
quo in aliis studiis uni pluribusve 2 scientiis sic insistitur, ut tamen aut 
plures, aut saltern earum aliqua 3 , videatur excludi; Oxoniae vero singulae sic 
docentur, ut scientia, quae illic respuitur, nullatenus licita censeatur. 

§ 9. Ex Libro Monaster ii de Hyda : Cap. xiii. § 4 4 . 
(See p. 13.) 

Quae universitas Oxoniae quondam erat extra portam Borealem ejusdem 
urbis, et erat principalis ecclesia totius cleri ecclesia sancti Egidii, extra 
eandem portam ; modo vero est, intra muros urbis Oxoniae, et est ecclesia 
principalis cleri, ecclesia Sanctae Mariae intra eandem urbem. Quae trans- 
late facta est anno regni regis Edwardi tertii post Conquestum vicesimo 
octavo ; anno Dominicae incarnationis millesimo tricentesimo quinqua- 
gesimo quarto. Cujus translationis causa fuit ista: Nam laici collecta 
multitudine virorum, de patria convicina, in scholares atrocissime irruerunt, 
et quosdam vulneraverunt, quosdam crudeliter peremerunt. Tandem, 
more praedonum, bona scholarium diripientes, eos de villa fugere com- 
pulerunt; propter quod Oxonia diu postea erat supposita ecclesiastico 
interdicto. Sed demum, mediantibus regni magnatibus et eorum amicis, 
pax inter eos tali pacto firmata est, ut cives Oxonienses, qui causas discor- 
diae ministraverant, firmiter et perpetualiter obligarent se nunquam de 
caetero scholaribus Oxoniensibus fore nocivos, vel eis laesionem aut injuriam 
illaturos ; regimenque totius villae cancellarius universitatis, qui pro tem- 
pore fuit, et nullus alius saltern laicus in posterum obtineret. 

1 Trout B. and C. Praestantior erased and Prout written above M. 

2 De scientiis M. 3 Aliqua omitted M. 

4 Printed from the edition of the Liber Monastcrii de Hyda, in Rolls Series, 
Svo. Lond. 1866, p. 41. Edited by Edward Edwards from the unique MS. 
in the Library of the Earl of Macclesfield. 



§ 10. Ex Johannis Brompton Chron. (sive Chron. Jornallensi) : 
fob 36 b K 

(See p. 15.) 

Unde circa idem tempus juxta quorundam opinionem, & vulgare anti- 
quorum & modernorum dictum, creditur studium apud Grantecestre sedem 
juxta Cantebrigiam a venerabili Beda esse fundatum: quod verisimiliter 
credi potest, pro eo & ex eo, quod postmodum tempore magni Karoli 
regis Franciae studium de Roma usque Parisius per quemdam Alquinum 
Anglicum discipulum Bedae in omnibus scripturis exercitatum, legitur eciam 
translatum esse, ut cito inferius plenius dicetur. 

Item superius legitur, quod Erpwaldus rex Estanglie, filius regis Redwaldi 
antequam factus fuerat rex, Gallia exulans, scolas ut ibi viderat, sancto 
Felice episcopo se juvante, instituit puerorum. Sed secundum quosdam, 
adhuc ante ista tempora fuerunt duo studia in Anglia, unum de Latino, & 
aliud de Graeco, quorum unum Graeci posuerunt apud Greglade, quae modo 
dicitur Kirkelade, et sic ibidem linguam Graecam pro tempore docuerunt. 
Aliud vero Latini posuerunt apud Latinelade, quae modo vocatur Lecchelade 
juxta Oxoniam, linguam ibi Latinam docentes. 

§ 11. Passages supposed to be by Leland supporting the mythical story 
as to the existence of Oxford. 
(See p. 16.) 

Johannes item Leylandus in marginali quadam annotatione, quam scrip- 
sit in Polydori Virgilii Anglicam historiam, quo loco idem Polydorus primam 
Oxoniensis Academiae fundationem Alphredo ascribit, affirmat, se legisse 
apud quosdam mirae vetustatis Britannicarum rerum scriptores, tempore 
Britonum, tarn Graecas quam Latinas scholas ad vadum Isidis floruisse, 
easque bellicis tumultibus deletas fuisse, & non ante Alphredi tempora in- 
stauratas. Haec in codicis margine illius manu scripta habentur 2 . 

Idem (i.e. Lelandus) in annotatione Marginali in Polydorum, in hunc 
modum : fuere tempore Brytonum ad ripas Isidis Graecae scholae et La- 
tinae quarum nomina vel adhuc corrupte manent; quas, praeceptores 
loci amoenitate ducti Calevam transtulerunt ubi pius Alfredus pristinis 
sedibus literas restituit. Haec Lelandus 3 . 

Lelandus vero de utraque schola sic ait, nempe, veteres Britones duas 
scholas habuisse tarn eloquentia quam omni literatura florentes ; quarum 
quidem una Greekelade a grecae linguae professione dicta est, altera vero 
Latinlade a linguae latinae professione : verum nunc corrupte Crekelade & 
Lechelade nomen est. Haec Lelandus apud Baleum in vita Regis Alphredi 
Magni. 3 

1 Printed by Twisden, Hist. Angliae Decern Scriptores, London, 1652, col. 814. 
From Cottonian MS., Tiberius CXIII, with which the extract has been compared. 

2 From Assertio Antiquitatis Oxoniensis Academicae, Hearne's ed., p. 279. 

3 From Bryan Twyne Antiq. Acad. Oxon Apologia, Oxoniae, 1608, p. 114. 

3 io 


§ 12. Ex Galfredi Monumetensis His form: Lib. X. cap. 4 1 . 
(See p. 17.) 

Congregatis tandem cunctis quos expectaverat Arturus ; illinc Augusto- 
dunum progreditur, ubi imperatorem esse existimabat. Ut autem ad 
Albam fluvium venit, annunciatum est ei, ilium castra sua non longe posu- 
isse, et tanto incedere exercitu, quanto (ut aiebant) resistere nequiret. 
Nec idcirco perterritus coeptis suis desistere voluit, sed super ripam flu- 
minis castra sua metatus est, unde posset exercitum suum libere condu- 
cere, et si opus esset, sese intra ea recipere. Duos autem consules, Bosonem 
Devadoboum et Guerinum Carnotensem, Walganium etiam nepotem suum 
Lucio Tiberio direxit, ut suggererent ei quatenus recederet e finibus 
Galliae, aut in postero die ad experiendum veniret, uter eorum majus jus 
in Galliam haberet, &c. 

(See p. 18.) 

Invidit ergo Boso Devadoboum, quoniam tantam probitatem fecisset 
Carnotensis : et retorquens equum suum, cui primo obviavit, ingessit illi 
lanceam in tragulam, et letaliter vulneratum coegit caballum deserere, quo 
eum insequebatur \ 

(See p. 18.) 

Cum igitur solennitas Pentecostes advenire inciperet, post tantum 
triumphum maxima laetitia fluctuans Arturus, affectavit curiam ilico tenere, 
regnique diadema capiti suo imponere. Reges etiam et duces sibi sub- 

ditos ad ipsam festivitatem convenire : Praeterea gymnasium du- 

centorum philosophorum habebat qui astronomia atque ceteris artibus 
eruditi, cursus stellarum diligenter observabant, et prodigia eo tempore 

ventura regi Arturo veris argumentis praedicebant Venerunt 

nobilium civitatum consules, Morvid consul Claudiocestriae : Urgennius ex 
Badone : Jonathal Dorocestrensis : Boso Ridocensis id est, Oxenefordiae ' 2 . 

(See p. 19.) 

Eliminabit Claudiocestria leonem, qui diversis praeliis inquietabit sae- 
vientem. Conculcabit eum sub pedibus suis, apertisque faucibus terrebit. 
Cum regno tandem litigabit leo, et terga nobilium transcendet. Super- 
veniet taurus litigio, et leonem dextro pede percutiet. Expellet eum per 
regni diversoria : sed cornua sua in muros Oxoniae confringet 3 . 

§ 13. Ex \Johannis Caii] De Antiquitate Cantab. Academiae : 
Libro I. cap. i 4 . 

(See p. 21.) 

Ceterum ad has discordias rumpendas atque finiendas, sanctamque 
pacem componendam atque statuendam, quum neque Oxoniensis Canta- 

1 Galfredi Monumetensis Historia Britonum, edidit Giles 1844, pp. 184-5. 
■ Ibid., Lib. ix. cap. 12, p. 170. 3 Ibid., Lib. vii. cap. 4, p. 127. 

4 Printed from Hearne's edition, Oxon. 1730, p. 6. 


brigiensem, nec Cantabrigiensis Oxoniensem fert in controversia judicem, 
quod pro sua cujusque affectione rem tractatum iri uterque judicat, ex 
libidine magis quam ex vero celebratam existimat, res suasit et commise- 
ratio jussit, ut ego homo Londinensis, medio loco inter utrumque positus, 
et eodem animo in utrumque affectus cui longa triginta annorum absentia 
a gymnasiis (nisi subinde invisendi gratia charitatis studio) omnem affectum 
juvenilem in Gymnasia sustulit, hanc controversial ut inutilem, imo vero 
rem damnosam, tanquam communis amicus definirem ac componerem. 
Etenim sic in animum induxi meum, boni viri officium atque partes esse 
omnem litis ansam intercipere, dulcem pacem componere, atque alienas 
simultates ut suas nec excitandas aut alendas esse existimare, et opportuni- 
tate data aut extinguendas aut mitigandas esse, idque minimo motu si 
maximas, nullo tumultu si periculosas sentiat. 

§ 1 4. Oratio oratoris Cantabrigiensis coram Elizabethae Reginae 
habita Nonis Augusti a. d. 1564 \ 
(See p. 25.) 

* Superest adhuc (excellentissima princeps) cum posita sunt multorum 
collegiorum incunabula, ipsa Academia nostra quando esse coepit, paucis 
explicetur. Historia nostra scriptum est, a Gantabro quodam, Hispaniae 
Rege, cum, domestico tumultu patria ejectus, in nostrum regnum appu- 
lisset, Gurguntii temporibus fuisse exstructam. Hujus authores sententiae 
Leylandus & vanitatis arguens & mendacii, Sigebertum Regem facit 
Academiae nostrae conditorem, in quo perniciosum reliquit exemplum 
nimis curiose in historias inquirendi, & sibi quoque parum consuluit. Nam 
si ipse tarn multis non credat, mirabiliter in hoc conspirantibus, quis paulo 
magis consideratus, ei soli fidem esse putabit adhibendam ? Sed sive ad 
hunc, sive ad ilium authorem referatur, illud constat inter omnes, Oxoniensi 
Academia nostram multis esse annis antiquiorem. Nam ilia ab Aluredo 
Rege dicitur instituta, quern omnes sciunt & Gurguntio & Sigeberto aetate 
multo fuisse posteriorem. Illud praeterea, ad magnam nostram gloriam, 
omnes una voce testificantur historiae, Oxoniensem Academiam a Canta- 
brigiensi doctiss. mutuatam esse qui prima ingenuarum artium incunabula 
in suo gymnasio traderent. Parisiensem etiam, quasi Coloniam a nostra 
Academia ductam, Alcuinum nostrum Bedae discipulum, a Carolo magno, 
Gallorum Rege, magnis locupletatum beneficiis habuisse, qui discendi 
cupidis quasi ludum quendam bonarum artium Lutetiae primus aperuerit.' 

§ 15. Ex [Nicholai Cantalupi\ Historiola. De Origine Universitatis 
Cantebrigiensis 2 . 
(See p. 35.) 

Huic civitati rex Cassebalanus regni gubernaculum cum esset adeptus 
talem praeeminenciam contulit ut quicunque fugitivus aut reus doctrinam 

1 From the Assertio Antiquitatis Oxoniensis Academia [Thomae Caii], as 
printed in Hearne's edition, Oxon. 1730, p. 281. 

2 Printed from Hearne's Appendix to Sprotti Chronica, Oxon. 1 719, p. 265. 

3 I2 


haurire desiderans ad earn confugeret, cum venia sine molestia, improperio, I 
aut injuria coram inimico tueretur. Gujus occasione, & propter terrae 
opulenciam, aeris mundiciam, & doctrinae habundanciam, & regis clemen- 
ciam, illuc accesserunt juvenes & senes ex diversis terrae finibus, ex quibus 
Julius Caesar habita de Cassebelano victoria secum adduxit Romam, ubi 
postmodum floruerunt eloquiis. 

§ 1 6. Ex Libro Monaster ii de Hyda: Cap. 13, § 4 1 . 
(See p. 45.) 

Igitur anno Dominicae incarnationis octingentesimo octogesimo sexto, , 
anno secundo adventus sancti Grimbaldi in Angliam, incepta est universitas 
Oxoniae, primitus in eadem regentibus, ac in theologia legentibus sancto 
Neotho, abbate necnon in theologia doctore egregio ; et sancto Grimbaldo, 
sacrae paginae suavissimae dulcedinis excellentissimo professore : in 
grammatica vero et rhetorica regente Assero, presbytero et monacho, ac 
in arte literatoria viro eruditissimo : in dialectica vero, musica, arith- I 
metica, legente Johanne, monacho Menevensis ecclesiae : in geometria et 
astronomia, docente Johanne, monacho ac collega sancti Grimbaldi, viro 
acutissimi ingenii et undecumque doctissimo ; praesente gloriosissimo et 
invictissimo rege Alfredo, cujus in omni ore, quasi mel, indulcabitur 
memoria, et totius regni sui clero et populo. Ubi idem rex prudentissimus 
Alfredus tale decretum edidit, videlicet, ut optimates sui filios suos, vel si 
filios non haberent, saltern servos suos, si ingenio pollerent, concessa libertate 
Uteris commendarent. [Quae Universitas, &c] 

§ 17. From Camden's edition of Assert Annales, showing the 
interpolated passage 2 . 
(See p. 46.) 

Eodem anno [i.e. DCCCLXXXVL] iElfred Angulsaxonum rex, post 
incendia urbium stragesque populorum, Londoniam civitatem honorifice 
restauravit, et habitabilem fecit ; quam genero suo iEtheredo Merciorum 
comiti commendavit servandam, ad quem regem omnes Angli et Saxones, 
qui prius ubique dispersi fuerant, aut cum Paganis sub captivitate erant, 
voluntarie converterunt, et suo dominio se subdiderunt. 

1 Printed from the edition in the Rolls Series 1866, p. 41. The passage 
immediately precedes that already printed, Appendix A. § 9. 

2 Anglica, Hibernica, Normannica, Cambrica, a Veteribus Scripta: Ex quibus 
Asser Menevensis, Anonym us de Vita Gulielmi Conquestoris, Thomas Walsingham, 
Thomas De la More, Gulielmus Gemiticensis, Giraldus Cambrensis, plerique nunc 
primum in lucem editi Guilielmi Camdeni, ex bibliotheca Francfort 1603, P- I 5« 
An edition of Asser is printed in the Monumenta Historica Brit, with the inter- ; 
polated passage within brackets p. 489. The text there adopted is that by Wise 

in his * Annales rerum gestarum ^Elfredi Magni Auctore Asserio Menevensi : 
Recensuit Franciscus Wise, Oxonii 1722.' He prints the interpolated passages, 
but with the following note : 'Clausulam hanc de discordia Oxoniae omittunt MS. 
Cott : et Ed. P[arkeriana] ; e codice autem MS. Saviliano edidit Camdenus.' 


3 T 3 

[Eodem anno exorta est pessima ac teterrima Oxoniae discordia, inter 
Grymboldum, doctissimosque illos viros, quos secum illuc adduxit, et 
veteres illos scholasticos quos ibidem invenisset ; qui ejus adventu leges, 
modos, ac prelegendi formulas ab eodem Grymboldo institutas, omni 
ex parte amplecti recusabant : per tres annos haud magna fuerat inter 
eos dissensio, occultum tamen fuit odium, quod summa cum atrocitate 
postea erupit, ipsa erat luce clarius : quod ut sedaret, rex ille invictissimus 
iElfredus de dissidio eo nuntio et querimonia Grymboldi certior factus, 
Oxoniam se contulit, ut finem modumque huic controversiae imponeret, 
qui et ipse summos labores hausit, causas et querelas utrinque illatas 
audiendo. Caput autem hujus contentionis in hoc erat positum : veteres 
illi scholastici contendebant, antequam Grymboldus Oxoniam devenisset, 
literas illic passim floruisse, etiamsi scholares tunc temporis numero erant 
pauciores, quam priscis temporibus, plerisque nimirum saevitia ac tyrannide 
Paganorum expulsis ; quin etiam probabant et ostendebant, idque indubi- 
tato veterum annalium testimonio, illius loci ordines ac instituta a 
nonnullis piis et eruditis hominibus fuisse sancita, ut a D. Giida, Melkino, 
Nennio 1 , Kentigerno, et aliis qui omnes literis illic consenuerunt, omnia 
ibidem felici pace et concordia administrantes : ac D. quoque Ger- 
manum Oxoniam advenisse, annique dimidium illic esse moratum. Quo 
tempore per Britanniam iter fecit adversus Pelagianorum haereses con- 
cionaturus, ordines et instituta supra mirum in modum comprobavit. Rex 
ille inaudita humilitate utramque partem accuratissime exaudivit ; Eos 
piis ac salutaribus monitis etiam atque etiam hortans, ut mutuam inter se 
conjunctionem et concordiam tuerentur. Itaque hoc animo discessit rex, 
quosque ex utraque parte consilio suo esse obtemperaturos et instituta sua 
amplexuros. At Grymboldus haec iniquo animo ferens, statim ad monas- 
terium Wintoniense ab iElfredo recens fundatum proficiscebatur, deinde 
tumbam Wintoniam transferri curavit, in qua proposuerat post hujus 
vitae curriculum ossa sua reponenda, in testudine, quae erat facta subter 
cancellum ecclesiae D. /Petri in Oxonia. Quam quidem ecclesiam idem 
Grymboldus extruxerat ab ipso fundamento de saxo summa cura per- 

Anno Dominicae Incarnationis DCCCLXXXVII. nativitatis autem 
iElfredi regis trigesimo sexto 2 , supra memoratus Paganorum exercitus 
Parisiam civitatem derelinquens incolumem, &c. 

§ 18. Ex Ranulphi Higden Poly chronic on: Lib. VI. cap. i 3 . 
(See p. 47.) 

Psalmos et orationes in unum libellum compegit quem manuale appellans, 
i. e. hand boc secum jugiter tulit ; grammaticam minus perfecte attigit, eo 

1 Misprinted Nemrio. 

2 In Wise's edition trigesimo nono, but in Mon. Hist. Brit, correctly sexto . 

3 Printed from the edition of Ranulphi Higden Polychronicon in the Rolls Series 
1883, vol. vi. p. 354. The passage in Asser on which Higden has based his 
account is as follows : ' Post haec cursum diurnum, id est celebrationes horarum, 
ac deinde psalmos quosdam, et orationes multas, quos in uno libro congregatos in 



quod tunc temporis in toto regno suo nullus grammaticae doctor extiterit. 
Quamobrem ad consilium Neoti Abbatis 1 quem crebro visitaverat, scholas 
publicas variarum artium apud Oxoniam primus instituit ; quam urbem in 
multis articulis privilegiari procuravit. Neminem illiteratum ad quam- 
cunque dignitatem ecclesiasticam ascendere permittens, optimas leges in 
linguam Angliam convertit. 

§19. Ex Johannis Bromton Chron.{s\ve Chro?i.Jornallensi)\ fol. 36b 2 . 

(See p. 47.) 

Psalmos et orationes in unum libellum compegit, quem secum jugiter 
circumduxit, grammaticam tamen minus perfecte attigit, eo quod tunc 
temporis in toto occidentali regno nullus grammatice doctor extitit, 
quamobrem ad consilium beati Neoti abbatis, quem crebro visitaverat, 
scolas puplicas variarum artium apud Oxoniam primus instituit, quas in 
multis privilegiari procuravit ; unde et ipse rex eleemosine dator missarum 
auditor, ignotarum rerum investigator sanctum Grimboldum monachum 
literatura et cantu peritum de partibus Gallie, et Johannem monachum 
de monasterio sancti David Meneviae in ultimis finibus Walliae posito, ad 
se vocavit, ut literaturam ab eis addisceret. Optimates quoque suos ad 
literaturam addiscendam in tantum provocavit, ut ipsi filios suos, vel saltern 
si filios non haberent, servos suos literis commendarent. 

§ 20. Ex Thomae Rudborne Historia Major e Wintoniensi : Cap. VP. 

(See p. 49.) 

Habuit etiam Alfredus Ethelwardum, virum literatissimum, et Philo- 
sophum in Universitate Oxenfordensi, qui sepultus est in Novo Monasterio 

sinu suo die noctuque (sicut ipsi vidimus) secum inseparabiliter orationis gratia 
inter omnia praesentes vitae curricula ubique circumducebat. Sed, proh dolor ! 
quod maxime desiderabat, liberalem scilicet artem, desiderio suo non suppetebat, 
eo quod, ut loquebatur, illo tempore lectores boni in toto regno Occidentalium 
Saxonum non erant. Quod maximum inter omnia praesentis vitae suae impedi- 
menta et dispendia crebris querelis, et intimis cordis sui suspiriis fieri affirmabat : 
id est, eo, quod illo tempore, quando aetatem et licentiam, atque suppetentiam 
disccndi habebat, magistros non habuerat.' {A/on. Hist. Brit. p. 474.) 

1 In the margin of the MS. is written ' Nota sub quo Universitas Oxoniensis 
incipit.' There is added in another hand (supposed to be Abp. Parker's), ' Sed 
quantum hie scriptor erraverat vide Io. Caium de Antiquitate Cantabrigiae.' 

2 Printed by Twisden, Hist. Angliae Decern Scriptores, col. 814, from Cottonian 
MS. Tiberius, cxiii. It is perhaps also well to give the passage from Asser on which 
Brompton has based his account : ' Legatos ultra mare ad Galliam magistros 
acquirere direxit, indeque advocavit Grimbaldum sacerdotem et monachum, venera- 
bilem videlicet virum, cantatorem optimum, et omni modo ecclesiasticis disciplinis, 
et in divina scriptura eruditissimum, et omnibus bonis moribus ornatum ; Johannem 
quoque aeque presbyterum et monachum, acerrimi ingenii virum, et in omnibus 
disciplinis literatoriae artis eruditissimum, et in multis aliis artibus artificiosum ; 
quorum doctrina regis ingenium multum dilatatum est, et eos magna potestate 
ditavit et honoravit.' (Mm. Hist. Brit. p. 487.) 

3 Printed in Wharton's Anglia Sacra, London 1691, vol. i. p. 207 and p. 208. 



"Wyntoniae, quod modo Hyda nominatur Nobilis iste Alfredus 

Regna, quae olim erant in Anglia, in Comitatus dividebat ; et ut fides 
Christiana in Regno suo semper cresceret, florens in virtutum floribus, 

Universitatem Oxoniensem fundavit 

Hie Alfredus quendam subulcum, nomine Denewlphum, inveniens, ad 
scolas misit ; qui postmodum Doctor in Theologia Oxoniis factus, per 
ipsum Alfredum Regem in Episcopum Wyntoniensem ordinatus est. 

§ 21. Ex Johannis Rossi Historia : fol. 43 b 1 . 
(See p. 50.) 

Iste rex [Alfredus] litteratos intime dilexit, quibus virtuosam vitam novit 
non deesse. Unde Plegmundum Cantuariensem, et Werferthum Wy- 
gorniensem ante praesulatum, ac Athelstanum Herfordensem, et Werulfum 
Legecestrensem viros literatos ad se vocavit de regno Merciorum. Hii 
ipsum ut optabant erudierunt. Sanctum eciam Grimbaldum Flandrensem 
monachum de monasterio Sancti Bertini cum consociis Johanne et Assero, et 
Johannem Wallensem a monasterio Sancti David sibi univit. Quorum 
doctrina edoctus librorum omnium notitiam habebat. Illo tempore non erant 
grammatici in toto regno occidentalium Saxonum. Hie inter laudabilia 
magnificentiae suae opera anno Domini DCCCLXXIII, Sancto Neote 
instigante, scolas publicas variarum artium apud Oxoniam instituit. Quam 
urbem ob scolarium precipuum favorem in multis privilegiavit articulis, 
neminem illiteratum ad quamcumque dignitatem ascendere permittens. 
Magistri et scolares, qui ad fidem conversi sunt, docuerunt in monasteriis 
et locis devotis secundum formam studiorum antiquorum Grekladie, 
Lechladie, Staunfordie, Caerleon, Gantebrigie, et Belli siti, et aliorum 

quot prius in insula fuerunt hujusmodi studia In prima dicte 

Universitatis fundatione ipse nobilis rex Auludedus infra urbis Oxoniae 
moenia doctores in Grammatica, artibus, et Theologia tribus locis in 
nomine Sancte Trinitatis de suis sumptubus instituit. In quarum una 
in alto vico versus portam orientalem situata ; xxvi grammaticos omnibus 
necessariis ipsam aulam dotavit, et earn propter scientie inferioritatem 
parvam aulam Universitatis appellari decrevit, et sic in diebus meis appel- 
lata est. Aliam aulam versus muros urbis boriales, ubi jam dicitur vicus 
scolarum, in sumptibus necessariis pro dialecticis seu philosophis xxvi 
habundanter construxit. Et hanc minorem aulam Universitatis appellari 
precepit. Terciam in alto vico versus portam orientalem fundatam 
prime aule occidentali contiguam aulam pro xxvi. theologis appellans, 
sacre scripture studium daturis ordinavit, quibus et expensas sumcientes 
habundanter exhibuit. Multae alie preter hec in brevi aule alie 
singularum facultatum h burgensibus urbis et comprovincialium circum- 
jacentium, deinde a remotioribus provinciis sunt exorte, licet non de 
regiis expensis, sed regio gracioso exemplo feliciter creverunt. 

1 Hearne's edition, 1745, p. 76. 


§22. Petitions to Parliament. No. 6329. In the Second Parlia- 
ment, held at Westminster the 15th day of Pasch [ = 25th of 
April], in the second year of King Richard the Second, after the 
Conquest of England [= 1379] 

(See p. 54.) 

A lour tres excellent et tres redoute et tres souereyn Seigneur notre 
Seigneur le Roy et a son tres sage conseil monstrent ses povres oratours 
les mestre et escolers de son College appelez mokel universite halle en 
Oxenford, quele College estoit primierement funduz par votre noble pro- 
genitour le Roy Alfrid, qi dieux assoill, pur la sustenance de vyngt et sys 
dyvins perpetuels ; que come un Esmon Franceys Citeyn de Londres 
parmy son grant avoir ad [avait] pursuiz en tant vers les tenantz des dits 
mestre et escolers pur certeyn terres et tenementz dont le dit College 
estoit endouez, que meismes les tenantz par collusion et feynt pleder ont 
perdus par defaute envers meisme l'esmon les terres et tenemens avant ditz. 
Et estre ce, lavant dit Esmon considerant que les dits mestre e escolers ne 
purront a cause de leur grant poverte mayntenir encontre lui aucune pro- 
cesse ou querele, soi enforce de jour en autre a destroier et disheriter 
lavant dit College del remanant de l'endowement dycell, en tant qil ad 
porte sur meismes les mestre et escolers un brief appelez nisi prius pur le 
remanant de leur sustenance avant dite, les queux mestre et escolers sont 
de non poair de faire defens en meismes le brief tout soit il qils ont suffi- 
seauntes evidences a ce faire : et ce purtant que le dit Esmon est de si grant 
poair que par douns, mangeries, et autre sotifs voies, il ad procurez tous les 
empanellez en l'enqueste a prendre sur ycelle d'estre en tout de sa partie. 
Que plese a votre tres sovereyn et gratieus Seigneur le Roy, depuis que 
vous estez notre vraie foundoure et avowe, de faire comparoir devant 
votre tres sage conseil les parties avant dites pur monstrer leur evidences 
sur le droit de la matire sus dite, issint que a cause del povertee de vos 
ditz Oratours votre dit College ne soit disheritez en maniere surdit ; eant 
regard tres gracieus Seigneur que les nobles Seintz Joan de Beverle, Bede, 
Richard Armecan et autres pluseurs famouses doctours et clercs estoient 
jadys escolars en meisme votre College, et comenserent es dyvins en 
ycelle ; Et ce pur dieux, et en oevre del charite. 

§ 23. Plea of Richard Wilton, Master of University College, in the 
suit against the Abbot of Oseney, 1427 2 . 
(See p. 57.) 

.... Praedictus Richardus in propria sua persona protestando dicit, 
quod ubi praedictus Abbas breue suum praedictum tulit ipsum. Richardum 

1 The original Petition is preserved in the Record Office under Parliamentary 
Petitions. It consists of a long narrow strip of parchment (about fourteen inches 
in length and five in breadth), the whole petition written in a very small but clear 
hand, occupying only eight and a half lines. 

2 Printed from Bryan Twyne's Antiquitatis Oxoniensis Academiae Apologia, 
1608, p. 189, who has copied it apparently from the original preserved amongst 


3 T 7 

per idem breue per nomen Custodis Magnae Aulae Universitatis Oxon 
nominando, dicit quod ipse est Magister eiusdem Aulae & per nomen 
Magistri Aulae praedictae cognitus, ac non per nome Custodis Magnae 
Aulae praedictae : & quod ipse & omnes praedicti sui Magistri eiusdem 
Aulae per nomen Magistrorum eiusdem Aulae cogniti, ac per nomen 
Magistrorum Magnae Aulae praedictae implacitati extiterint ; quia dicit 
quod magna Aula praedicta est quoddam antiquum Collegium ex funda- 
tione & patronatu praedicti Domini Regis nunc & progenitorum suorum 
quondam Regum Angliae, videlicet ex fundatione quondam Domini Alfredi, 
quondam Regis progenitoris domini Regis nunc praedicti ante tempus a 
toto tempore, cuius contrarii memoria hominum non existit : & ad Magis- 
trum & septuaginta scholares, videlicet ad viginti sex scholares Philosophos: 
& viginti sex scholares Theologos ibidem erudiendos & edocendos & ad 
fidem Domini nostri Jesu Christi Sanctae quoque Ecclesiae, ac jura, leges 
& consuetudines regni supportandum, manutenendum & sustentandum, ac 
per nomen Magistri & scholarium magnae Aulae praedictae habiles facti & 
incorporati ad quaecunque, terras seu tenementa sibi perquisita &in posterum 
per quirenda, &c. 

Passages quoted in Chapter IV. — Oxford during the 
Saxon Settlement. 

§ 24. From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sub anno 571 *. 
(See p. 81.) 

Her Cu)>wulf 2 feaht wib Bretwalas 3 set Bedcanforda 4 - J nil. tunas 
genom • Lygeanbirg 5 • 3 iEgelesbirg 6 • Baenesingtun 7 • "J Egonesham • 3 
)>y ilcan geare he forbferde. 

§ 25. From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sub anno 661 8 . 
(See p. 84.) 

Her Cenwalh 9 gefeaht in Eastron on Posentesbyrg 10 • "J gehergeade 
Wulfhere Pending ob 11 iEscesdune. 

the archives in University College. William Smith, in his Annals of University 
College, gives an English version. The latter evidently refers to the original, and 
it is presumed he would have given it in his appendix of original documents which 
he announced, but, as he explains in a postscript, he issued his book in a hurry. 
• 1 Printed from Chronicle A. Wanting in D. and F. 

2 CuSulf B, C. Cu$a E. 5 Liggeanburh B, C. Lygeanbyrig E. 

3 Bryttas B, C. 'Brytwalas E. 6 ^Eglesburh B, C. ^Eglesbyrig E. 

4 Biedcanforda B, C, E. 7 Bensingtun B, C. Benesingtun E. 

8 Printed from Chronicle A. Wanting in D. and F. 

9 Kenwealh B. Cen wealth C, E. 

10 Posentesbyrig B, C ; E. 11 on B. and C : of E. 

3 i8 


Passages quoted in Chapter V. — The Foundation of 
S. Frideswide's Nunnery. 

§ 26. Ex Baedae Historia Ecclesiastic a: Lib. III. cap. 8 1 . 
(See p. 87.) 

Nam eo tempore necdum multis in regione Anglorum monasteriis con- 
structs, multi de Brittania monachicae conversationis gratia Francorum 
vel Galliarum monasteria adire solebant ; sed et filias suas eisdem erudien- 
das, ac sponso caelesti copulandas mittebant. 

§ 27. Ex Chron. Monaster ii de Abingdon 11 . 
(See p. 89.) 

Quis autem antiquorum illius primum institutor fuerit, monimento 
veterum accepimus, quod Cissa rex Occidentalium Saxonum Heano 
cuidam, religiosae vitae viro, ac abbati simulque sorori ejusdem, Cille 
nomine, locum ad Omnipotentis Dei cultum construendi coenobii dedit, 
collatis ad hoc, regio munere, plurimis beneficiis et possessionibus ob vitae 
necessarium inibi fore degentium. Uterque siquidem regio nobilitabatur 
genere. Verum non multo post, antqeuam designato insisteretur operi, 
rex ipse vita functus est. 

§ 28. Ex Chron. Monaster ii de Abingdon 3 . 
(See p. 90.) 

Verumtamen rex Cedwalla (cujus animae propitietur Deus,) non tantum 
bona supra enumerata Abbendoniae contulit, verum etiam de propria 
voluntate sua Cille, sorori Heani patricii, dedit licentiam construendi mo- 
nasterium in loco qui nunc dicitur Helnestoue juxta Thamisiam ; ubi virgo 
Deo sacrata et sacro velamine velata quamplurimas coadunavit sancti- 
moniales, quarum in posterum mater extitit et abbatissa. Post hujus de- 
cessum, succedente temporis intervallo quam plurimo, translatae sunt 
sanctimoniales praefatae ab illo loco ad villam quae dicitur Witham. 
Succedentibus vero nonnullis annis, cum grave bellum et a seculo inauditum 
ortum fuisset inter Offam regem Merciorum et Kinewlfum regem West- 
saxonum, tunc temporis factum erat castellum super montem de Witham, 
ob cujus rei causam recesserunt sanctimoniales illae a loco illo, nec ulterius 
redire perhibentur. 

1 Printed in the Monumenta Hist. Brit., p. 1 80. 

2 Printed as a note to Chron. Mon. Ab. in the Rolls Series 1858, vol. i. p. 1, 
from Cottonian MS. Claud, ix. folio 102. 

3 Printed from Chron. Mon. Ab., Rolls Series 1858, vol. i. p. 8. From Cotton. 
MS. B. vi. The MS. Claud. C. ix. narrates the benefactions of Ceadwalla some- 
what differently. 



§ 29. Ex Cartulario S. Frideswidae penes Dec. et Canon. Eccl. 
Christi Oxon 1 . 
(See p. 91, also p. 142.) 

Incipit Registrum cartarum et muniment or um monasterii See. Fridesivide 
Oxon' de fundatione ejusdem loci combustione ac ipsius teno'vatione. Et de omni- 
bus ecclesiis maneriis terris tenementis juribus libertatibus pr'vvilegiis consue- 
tudinibus rusticorum sewitutibus Redditus porcionibus pensionibus et possessio- 
nibus quibuscunque hucusque ad dictum monasterium pertinentibus secundum 
ordinem infer ius distinctum. 

Notandum quod Didanus, quondam rex Oxenford' regnavit anno 
incarnationis Dominicae septingentesimo circiter vicesimo septimo 2 . Iste 
rex Didanus, pater fuit sancte Frideswyde 3 , qui sibi hunc locum dedit 
optatum, et monacharum 4 habitum dari fecit, ecclesiam, diversoriaque 

1 Printed from folio 7 of the MS. and folio 1 of the Cartulary proper (A). 

The Charter itself beginning A nno Dominicae is also repeated on folio 25 of the 
same MS. in a copy of a confirmation charter of Edward I. (Ed. I.) ; again on folio 
36 in one of Edward III. (Ed. III.) ; and once more on folio 45 in one of Richard 
II. (Re), and to all of these the signatures are found added. 

The charter only, without the historical introduction, rubric, boundaries, or 
signatures, is given in the Chartulary preserved in Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 
folio 271, Charter No. 415 (C). 

The charter only is also found in an ' inspeximus ' enrolled in the Patent Rolls 
5 Hen. V. memb. 3 (Hn.). The variations from Ric. II. are but slight. 

The historical introduction and the rubric, as well as the charter, but without 
the boundaries or the signatures, is found on folio 5 of the Oseney Chartulary, 
preserved amongst the Cottonian MSS. and marked Vitellius E. xv. It is so much 
damaged by fire that only a very few various readings can be obtained from it (Os.) 

Dugdale, however, copied from the MS. when it was perfect, and printed it in 
his edition of 161 2, vol. i. p. 174. From this edition therefore the various readings 
are given, whether they can be verified or no (D). In the new editions of Dugdale 
of 181 7 and 1846 the boundaries and signatures are added, professing to be taken 
from a MS. described as follows (vol. ii. p. 144) : ' Ex MS. Codice penes Girardum 
Langbane S. Theol. D. Praepositum Colleg. Reginae Oxon an. 1652.' But whence 
Dr. Langbane's copy was derived does not appear ; most of the various readings 
seem to be simply the writer's emendations or errors, but some few are given as 
they are printed in the second and third editions of Dugdale's Monasticon (Dd.). 

It will be seen from the variations, which are given very fully, that it is difficult 
to determine the reading of the Archetype. The Inspeximus of Ed. III. and Ric. II. 
seem to be copied from the same original but neither from A. Possibly Ed. I. 
may be also from the same original. It would seem however by the indiscriminate 
use of y for p and ]> that the original was badly copied from the original charter 
with the names written in Anglo-Saxon letters. For this reason the y has been 
kept in the present transcript, in those cases where it is written, instead of writing 
the w or th for which it was intended. A, perhaps, was also taken from the 
original MS. by a copyist who understood the letters, but as the manuscript 
only contains a portion of the signatures it is difficult to judge. A very large 
proportion of the variations are obviously due to the mere emendations of the 
copyists, or to their errors. Still it has been thought best to give the whole rather 
than make a selection. 

2 DCC Circiter xxvi. D. 3 Fredeswidae D. 4 Monachorum D. 

3 20 


religioni aptissima secus earn construxit, que quidem liquet in vita ejusdem || 
virginis 1 . Item ibidem patet 2 , quod locum ilium qui dicebatur 3 Thorn- 
burie 4 , nunc autem Benseia 5 , eadem virgo pacifice optinuit. Nam ibidem 
latitando fontem precibus impetravit, et unum a demone 6 vexatum, et 
alterum cujus manus securi adheserat liberavit. Post gloriosum beate | 
Frid' 7 obitum, per intervalla temporum, amotis sanctimonialibus 8 , intro- 
ducti sunt canonici seculares. 

Postea, anno gratiae millesimo quarto, Ethelredus 9 Rex omnes Danos Angliam 
incolentes utriusque sexus jussit occidere, Et combusti sunt apud Oxorf omnes 
qui illic 10 confugerant, cum ecclesia, libris, et ornamentis, quod patet per cartam 
Ethelredi Regis in modum qui subscribitur 11 . 

A NNO Dominice incarnationis millesimo quarto 12 indictione secunda 13 , 
XjL anno vero Imperii mei vicesimo quinto u , Dei disponente providentia, 
Ego Ethelred 15 , totius Albionis monarchiam gubernans, monasterium quod- 
dam in urbe situm que Oxenford 16 appellatur, ubi beate zoma 17 Frid'. 18 , 
requiescitlibertate privilegii auctoritate videlicet 19 regali 20 pro cunctipatran- 
tis amore stabilivi, et territoria que sibi 21 adjacent Christi arcisterio 22 novi 
restauratione libelli recuperavi, cunctisque hanc paginulam 23 intuentibus, 
qua ratione id actum sit, paucis verborum signis retexam. Omnibus enim 
in hac patria degentibus satis 2 * constat fore notissimum, quoniam dum 25 ! 
a me decretum cum consilio optimatum satrapumque meorum exivit, ut 
cuncti Dani qui in hac insula velut lollium 26 inter triticum pululando 27 emer- 
serant, justissima exanimatione 28 necarentur, hocque decretum mortetenus 
ad effectum perduceretur ; ipsi quique 29 in praefata urbe morabantur 
Dani mortem evadere nitentes, hoc Christi sacrarium fractis per vim val- i 
vis ac pessulis intrantes, asilum 30 sibi propagnaculumque 31 contra urbanos i 

I ut patet in vita beatae virginis D. 2 patet ibidem D. 
3 tunc dicebatur D. Os. 4 Thornebirie D. Os. 5 Benseya D. 

6 demonio D. Os. 

7 Fredeswide D. Frideswide Os. 

8 amotis monialibus D. Os. 9 Etheldredus D. 10 illuc D. 

II in hunc modum quae subsequitur D. in modum q {the rest destroyed) Os. 

12 millesimo iiijto Os, Ed. Ill, Rc. 

13 indictione ii^ a Ed. Ill, Rc. Hn. 14 mei xxv to Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Rc. Hn. 
15 Adelred C. D, Etheldredus Os. Ed. Ill, Rc. Adeldred Ed. I. 
1G Oxeneford C. Oxoneford D, Oxenforde Os. Oxonaford, Ed. Ill, Rc. Oxna- 

ford Hn. 

17 zoma requiescit Frideswide C. zoma requiescit Frid' Ed. I. soma requiescit 
Frideswyde Ed, III, Rc. Ibid. Frideswide Hn. 

18 ubi beata requiescit Frideswide D. 19 videlicet omitted D. 

20 regali omitted Hn. 

21 ipsi C. D, Ed. Ill, Rc. 22 archisterio D. Asciterio Os. 
23 paginam D. 24 sat constat C. D. Os, stat constat Ed. Ill, Rc. Hn. \ 
25 dum omitted Ed. III. 26 lolium C. D. Hn. 27 pullulando D. 
28 exinanitione D. {The word is scarcely legible in A.) But all other MS S. follow 

the reading given in the text. 

19 ipsi qui C. Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Rc. 30 asylum C. 
31 repugnaculumque C. Os. ; Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Rc. 



suburbanosque inibi fieri decreverunt : sed cum populus omnes 1 insequens 
eos 2 , necessitate compulsus, ejicere niteretur nec valeret, igne tabulis in- 
jecto, hanc ecclesiam, ut liquet, cum ornamentis 3 ac libris combusserunt. 
Postquam Dei adjutorio a me et a meis constat renovata et ut prefatus 
sum, retentis privilegii dignitate cum adjacentibus sibi territoriis in Christi 
onomate 4 roborata, et omni libertate donata tarn iii regalibus exactionibus 
quam in ecclesiasticis 5 omnino consuetudinibus. Si autem fortuitu 6 aliquo 
contigerit 7 tempore aliquem vesane 8 mentis, quod absit, irretitum 9 desidia, 
hujusce donationis nostre munus, defraudare satagente 10 , anathema 11 sancte 
Dei ecclesie excipiat eternum mortis, nisi ante exitum questionem tarn 
calumpniferam ad satisfactionem perducat exoptabilem 12 . Istis terminis 
praefati monasterii rura circumscripta 13 clarescunt u . 

Scripta fuit hec cedula 15 jussu prefate Regis in villa regia que Hedyndon 16 

appellatur die octavarum beati Andree Apostoli, hiis consentientibus 

principibus qui subtus 17 notati 18 videntur. 
Ego 19 Ethelred 20 Rex Anglorum hoc 21 privilegium pro Christi nomine 

perpetua libertate predicto 22 donavi. 
Ego Alfrich 23 Dorovernensis ecclesie archipresul corroboravi 24 sub anathe- 


Ego Wulstan 25 Eborace 26 civitatis Archipontifex confirmavi. 
Ego Ethelrich 27 Scireburn ' ecclesie episcopus consensi. 
Ego Elfgifu 28 thoro consecrata regio hanc donationem sublimavi. 
Ego Alfwod Cridiensis ecclesie episcopus vegetavi. 

1 omniS C, Ed. Ill, Rc. 

2 eos transposed after compulsus C, D, Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Hn. 

3 munimentis Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Rc, Hn. 4 honore roborata D. 
5 Aecclesiasticis Hn. 6 fortuito D, Os. 

7 contigeret D. 8 vesano Ed. Ill, Rc. 9 inretitum Rc. 

10 satagente diabolo defraudare D. 11 in anathema Hn. 

12 The page of the Oseney MS. ends here, and no other pages appear in the 
volume giving a continuation. 

13 circumcincta C, D, Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Rc. 

14 After clarescunt Dugdale (ed. 1682) adds the words 'Caetera desunt in 
Registro.' In C. there follows another charter beginning ' Henri cus Dei gratia 
Rex.' In A, Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Rc. and Hn., here follow the boundaries of the 
property beginning with those of Winchendon. 

15 Scripta est autem hec sedula Ed. I, ibid, scedula Ed. Ill, Rc. 

16 Hedenandun Ed. Ill, Hedenandon Rc, Hedenandum Hn. 

17 subter Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Rc 18 vocati Ed. I. 

19 + Ego and so throughout Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Rc, Hn. 

20 Adeldred Ed. I, Aldeldred Ed. Ill, Adelred Rc, Aldelred Hn. 

21 hoc omitted Hn. 

22 predicto omitted Ed. III. 

23 Alfric Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Rc, Alfrik Hn. 

24 coroboravi Rc. 25 Wlstan Ed. I, Yulstan Ed. Ill, Rc, Hn. 

26 heboracae Ed. Ill, Rc. Hn. 

27 Ego Ethelric and Ego Alfwod are omitted here and occur lower down in Ed. 
j I, Ed. Ill, Rc. and Hn. 

28 Alfgifu Ed. I, Ed. Ill, Rc Hn. 



Ego Adelstan regalium primogenitus filiorum cum fratribus meis testis 
benevolus interfui, &c. ut in codicillo predicto \ 

Ego Alfean Wentanus antistes consignavi. 

Ego Alfstan Fontoniensis 2 episcopus ecclesie consolidavi. 

Ego Alfvvn 3 London' ecclesie episcopus consecravi. 

Ego God v v 4 Licetfeldensis 5 ecclesie episcopus communivi. 

Ego Orbyrt 6 australium Saxonum episcopus conclusi. 

Ego Edelric 7 Scireburnensis ecclesie episcopus consensu 

Ego Alfield 8 Cridiensis ecclesie episcopus vegetavi. 

Alfric dux 9 . 

Ego Leofjnne 10 dux. 

Ego Yulgar abbas. 

Ego Alfisige 11 abbas. 

Ego Kenuk 12 abbas. 

Ego Alfsige abbas. 

Ego Athemer 13 comes. 

Ego Ordulf comes u . 

Ego Ayelmer comes 15 . 

Ego Ayelric comes 16 . 

Ego Elfgar comes 17 . 

Ego Goda comes 18 . 

Ego Eyelyerd comes 19 . 

Ego Ayelwyn comes 20 . 

Ego Orirdmer 21 . 

Et Ego Leofyine comes 22 . 

Ego Godyin comes 23 . 

Ego Lufyine comes 24 . 

1 A ends at this point, arid is followed by 'Predictus vero Rex.' See A § 6i» 
The text given above is taken from Ed. I. &c. ut in codicillo predicto omitted Ed. I, 
Ed. Ill, Rc. Hn. 

2 Fontanensis Ed. Ill, Rc. 3 Alfuin Rc. 

4 Godyine Ed. Ill, Rc. 5 lichfeldensis Ed. III. 6 Ordbyrt. Hn. 

7 Edelbrit Dd. 8 Alfeold Ed. Ill, Alfyold Rc, Alfiod Hn. Elfeod Dd. 

9 Ego Alfric Ed. Ill, Rc, Dd., Hn. 10 Leofyine Ed. Ill, Rc Hn. 
11 Alfsige Ed. Ill, Rc, Alsigge Dd. 12 Kenulf Ed. III. Rc. Hn. 

13 seyelmer comes Ed. Ill, Ayelmer minister] Rc 14 Ordulf m. Rc. 

15 ocyelmer comes Ed. III. Ibid. in. Rc, Ayelmer m Hn. 

16 aeyelric comes Ed. Ill, ayelric m. Rc, Aelryc comes Dd. 

17 Elfgar m. Rc, Hn., ^Elfgar comes Dd. 18 Goda m. Ed. Ill, Rc 

19 Ayelyerd m. Rc, Hn., Athelwerd comes Dd. 

20 rcyeline comes Ed. Ill, ayelne m Rc, Hn., Athlwyne comes Dd. 

21 Ordmer comes Ed. III. Ordmer m. Rc. Ordemer, m. Hn. Ordmere, comes Dd. 

22 Ibid. in. Rc, Hn. Et omitted throughout except in A. 

23 Godyine comes Ed. III. Ibid. m. Rc, Hn. 

24 Ibid. Si. Ric. II. In all three cases in S. Frideswide's Cartulary and in the 
Inspcximus in the Patent Roll the last signature is followed immediately by the 
commencement of another inspeximus. 



§ 30. Ex Willelmi Malmesbiriensis de Gestis Pontijicum, 
Libro IV, § 178 \ 
(See p. 94.) 

Fuit antiquitus in Oxenefordensi civitate monasterium sanctimonialium, 
in quo requiescit Frisewida 2 virgo sacratissima. Regis filia regis thoros 
despexit, integritatem suam Domino Christo professa. Sed ille cum ad 
virginis nuptias appulisset animum, precibus et blanditiis inaniter con- 
sumptis, vi agere intendit. Quo Frideswida cognito fugae in silvam 
consuluit. Nec latibulum latere potuit amantem, nec cordis desidia obfuit 
quin persequeretur fugitantem. Iterate ergo virgo, juvenis furore com- 
perto, per occultos tramites, Deo comitante, Oxenefordam ingressa est 
nocte intempesta. Blue, cum mane curiosus amator advolasset, puella jam 
de fuga desperans, simulque pro lassitudine nusquam progredi potens, Dei 
tutelam sibi, persecutori penam imprecata est. Jamque ille cum comitibus 
portas subibat urbis, cum, caelesti plaga irruente, cecitatem incurrit. 
Intellectoque pertinatiae suae delicto, et Fridesuuida per nuntios exorata, 
eadem celeritate qua perdiderat lumen recepit. Hinc timor regibus inolevit 
Angliae illius urbis ingressum et hospitium cavere, quod feratur pestifer esse, 
singulis refugientibus sui dampno periculi veritatem rei experiri. Ibi ergo 
femina, virginei triumfi compos, statuit monasterium, et diebus suis, sponso 
vocante, subivit fatum. Tempore vero regis Egelredi, cum Dani, neci adjudi- 
cati, in monasterium illud confugissent, pariter cum domibus, insatiabili ira 
Anglorum, flammis absumpti sunt. Sed mox regis penitentia purgatum 
sacrarium, restitutum monasterium, veteres terrae redditae, recentes posses- 
siones additae. Nostro tempore, paucissimis ibi clericis, &c. 

§ 31. Ex Sanctae Frideswidae Vita : MS. Bodleian, fol. 140 3 . 
(See p. 101.) 

Sepulta est beata virgo in basilica intemerate semper virginis Dei 
genetricis S. Mariae in parte australi prope ripam fluminis Thamesis. Sic 
enim se tunc habebat situs basilica usque ad tempus Regis Althelredi qui, 
combussis in ea Dacis qui confugerant illuc, basilice ambitum, sicut ante 
noverat, ampliavit. Hinc nimirum actum est, sepulchrum, quod ante 
fuerat in parte, medium ex tunc esse contiget. 

§ 32. Ex Annalibus Monaster ii de Wintonia** 
(See p. 102.) 

Anno DCCXXI. Ethelardus Rex Westsaxonum. Hujus conjux 

Printed in the Rolls Series, London 1870, p. 315. The chief MS. used is 
one supposed to be an autograph of William of Malmesbury, [ preserved in 
I Magdalen College, Oxford (No. 172). 

I 2 Sic in the MS., but in most copies Frideswida or Fritheswida. 

I 3 The MS. is of the twelfth century and is marked Laud. Miscell. U4. 

I * The full title is 'Annales Monasterii de Wintonia, ab anno 519 ad annum 

3 1277, authore Monacho Wintoniensis.' It is preserved amongst the Cottonian 

I MSS., Domitian A, xiii. i. It is printed imperfectly in "Wharton's Anglia Sacra, vol. i. 

I p. 289, but accurately in Annates Monastics, Rolls Series 1865, vol. ii. pp. 3-125. 

Y % 


Fritheswitha Regina dedit "Wintoniensi Ecclesiae Tantonam de suo patir- 
monio. Et ipse Ethelardus de sua parte addidit ad praedictum Manerium 
ad opus ejusdem Ecclesiae vii. mansas. 

Passages quoted in Chapter VI. — Oxford a Border Town. 

§ 33. From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sub anno 777 1 . 
(See p. 109.) 

Her Cynewulf 7 Offa gefuhton ymb Benesingtun 2 . 7 Offa nam )>one tun. 

§ 34. Ex Chron. Monaster ii de Abingdon, 
(See p. 109.) 

Kinewulfo ab Offa regi Merciorum in bello victo omnia quae juri- 
dictioni suae subdita fuerant ab oppido Walingefordiae in australi parte 
ab Ichenildestrete usque ad Esseburiam, et in aquilonali parte usque ad 
Tamisiam, Rex Offa sibi usurpavit 3 . 

Passages quoted in Chapter VII. — Oxford during the Danish 
Incursions in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries. 

§ 35. From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sub anno 912 4 . 
(See p. 116.) 

Her gefor JE^ered 5 ealdormon on Mercum 6 • 7 Eadweard 7 cyng feng 
to Lundenbyrg 8 • 7 to Oxnaforda 9 • 7 to ^aem landum eallum J>e basrto 
hierdon 10 - 

§ 36. Ex Florentii Wigorniensis Chron., sub anno 912 n . 
(See p. 125.) 

DCCCCXII. — Eximiae vir probitatis, dux et patricius, dominus et sub- 
regulus Merciorum iEtheredus, post nonnulla quae egerat bona decessit. 

1 Printed from Chronicle A. Similar in the others but omitted in F. 

2 Bcnsingtun B. 

3 Printed in Chron. Mm. Ab., Rolls Series 1858, vol. i. p. 14, from Cottonian MS. 

Claudian, B. vi. 

4 Printed from Chronicle A. It occurs in substance in the other five Chronicles. 

6 iEJ>elred D. 

6 on Myrcum B, C, D. Mrycena. ealdor E. This first line omitted in F. 

7 Eadward E, F. 8 Lundenbyrig B, C, D, E. Lundenberi F. 
9 Oxanaforda F. 10 hyrdon B, C, D, F. gebyredon E. 

11 Printed in Monumenta Hist. Brit., p. 569. 



Post cujus mortem uxor illius iEgelfleda, regis Alfredi filia, regnum 
Merciorum, exceptis Lundonia et Oxeneforda quas suus germanus rex 
Eadwardus sibi retinuit, haud brevi tempore strenuissime tenuit. 

§ 37. Ex Simeonis Dunelmensis Historia, sub anno 910 1 . 
(See p. 125.) 

Anno DGGCGX. — Rex Edwardus Londoniam et Oxnaforda et quae ad 
earn pertinent suscepit. 

§ 38. Ex Henrici Huntendunensis His tor ia : Lib. V. § 15 2 . 
(See p. 126.) 

Anno sequente, defuncto Edredo duce Merce, rex Edwardus saisivit 
Londoniam et Oxinefordiam, omnemque terram Mercensi provinciae 

§ 39. From LEstorie des Engles solum Geffrei Gaimar, line 3477 s . 

(See p. 

VEstorie des Engles, 
En icel tens morust uns reis 
Edelretj ki ert sur Merceneis. 
Icist Edelret Lundres teneit ; 
Li reis Elveret mis i l'aveit. 
Ne l'aveit mie en heritage ; 
Gum dust morir, si fist ke e sage : 

Al rei Eadward rendi son dreit, 
Od quanqu'il i aparteneit. 
Lundres rendi ainz k'il fust mort 

E la cite de Oxeneford, 
E le pais e les contez 
Ki apendeient as citez. 


L'Histoire des Anglais. 
En ce temps mourut un roi, 
Ethelred, qui etait sur les Merciens. 
Get Ethelred Londres tenait ; 
Le Roi Alfred mis l'y avait. 
[II] ne 1'avait pas [eu] en heritage. 
Quand il dut mourir, il agit sage- 
ment : 

Au roi Edward il rendi sa legitime, 
Avec toutes ses appartenances. 
Londres [il] rendit avant qu'il fut 

E la cite d'Oxford, 
Et le pays et les comtes 
Qui dependaient des cites. 

§ 40. From the Anglo-Saxon Chro